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Reduced banking margin to help provide loans to farmers at 7 percent

Written by: Staff

Kolhapur, Apr 9 (UNI) A four per cent hike in agricultural products is the need of hour to boost the nation's GDP rate above eight per cent and for India to successfully compete with China, National Bank for Rural and Agriculture Development (NABARD) Chairman Dr Y S P Thorat said today.

''In order to boost agricultural products by four per cent to raise the GDP, NABARD has given priority to the farmers welfare funding scheme, '' Dr Thorat told repoters here.

Dr Thorat, who is also the Member-Secretary of the Vidyanath Commitee, added that according to the committee's suggestions, it would be easy to provide farmers with loans at seven per cent interest, if the banks reduce the margin and lower the cost of funds.

The UPA government, since coming to power, has not only given priority to the agricultural sector by enhancing the budgetory allotment, but it has also earmarked Rs 170,000 crore in the current budget.

The funds are to be disbursed to the grass-root level through various banks, Dr Thorat disclosed.

In the current fiscal, NABARD will provide Rs 14,000 crore as rural infrastructure funds, Rs 8,500 crore for agricultural investment and another Rs 4000 for the 'Bharat Nirman' scheme to re-finance farmers, the NABARD Chairman said.

Refering to the bad phase the co-operative sector is pasing through, Dr Thorat pointed out that it was not financial health, but bad management and poor governance that was the cause for the present situation.

Dr Thorat said that the Vidyanath Committee has suggested a Rs 15,000 crore revival package for insolvent co-operatives.

The NABARD chairman informed that the committee's sugestions had received both the Prime Minister's as well as the union Finance Minister's approval.

NABARD, in fact has held a couple of meetings with the latter and it was expected that the sugestions will be implemented soon.

Though, India has made great achivements in modern technology, it has achived very little in the agricultural sector. Over one-third of the small and marginal farmers are being forced to take loans from money lenders at high interests. This situation has to change, Dr Thorat said, adding that he fully supports the state government's initiatives to curb the private money leander chain.

However, there was need to carry out a research on how the chain operates, he said.

Accepting moral responsibility to prevent the farmers falling prey to money lenders, NABARD has decided to set citizen committees in every district in the state to oversee the proper implementation and disbursment of funds at the grass root level.

He underlined the need on part of the media to focus on the issue for the benefit the rural people.

'' The state government needs to hange the co-operative laws and bring about some norms on finacial disbursment and proper audit,'' Dr Thorat said.


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