Namaskar and warm greetings to all of you. I salute my predecessors who built APRACA to what it is today. I would also like to convey my thanks to all member institutions of APRACA on taking over as the Chairman APRACA, an important cross – country developmental forum in the Asia Pacific region.
As members, let us work towards mitigating poverty in the Asia Pacific Region, innovate to improve disposable incomes of small farmers and also examine new and innovative models of agricultural finance and developmental strategies in line with optimising use of natural resources and addressing climate mitigation issues. As this region is home to the large contingent of small farmers, with high income sensitivities, exchange of expertise among the member institutions to work towards income enhancement, would be beneficial to all.
Increasing climate stress and global economic down turn with recessionary fears further complicates the situation for small farming communities which have little headroom to face these challenges. However, food and livelihood security in the Asia Pacific region are to be protected at all costs. I am sure that APRACA would be an ideal forum for the member countries to work together for managing these issues. India is playing a pivotal role in the implementation of suitable interventions in this regard and APRACA member countries have also contributed their efforts to bring about cross- learnings for socio- economic prosperity by working along these lines.
The small /marginal landholdings of majority of farmers in the region pose a challenge to making available a liveable income to the farmer. To address the fragmentation of land holdings and to make ensure adequate food and income security, collectivisation of farming and adoption of cooperative models of farming and rural livelihoods can be thought of. India is already working in this direction by initiating work on computerisation of the Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS) to make them the backbone of rural prosperity. We have taken up computerization of 63,000 functional PACs. It is also planned to open 200,000 new societies with primary focus on 25 business activities specially dairy, fisheries in the next 05 years. As a start, national cooperative country data base is being prepared with country-wide mapping of cooperatives at village level. All these would generate business and employment opportunities in rural areas and have multiplier effect for the rural economy. Farmers will also realise better prices, expand their market size and weave them seamlessly into the supply chain. Member nations can study the model for adoption in their country.
As India’s apex agriculture and rural development bank, NABARD’s commitment to bring about rural prosperity in all areas connected with agriculture and rural development is not only an organizational goal but a national commitment which we follow with missionary zeal. This has resulted in many innovative practices leading to enhanced ground level credit to small and marginal farmers at reasonable (subvented) rates, formation of joint liability groups (JLGs) for accessing institutional credit by oral lessees, and tenant farmers, rural infrastructure finance, SHG-BLP (Self Help Group-Bank Linkage programme), formation of Farmer Producers Organisations, Financial literacy programmes, Value Chain financing, skilling of rural youths, etc.
The Govt. of India’s Central sector scheme to promote 10,000 FPOs is an important step for collectivization of farmers to give them bargaining power both at input level and point of sales. NABARD has been important partner in the scheme and has promoted 1751 FPOs till date.
In this context, India’s assumption of the G20 Presidency from 1 December 2022 to 30 November 2023 assumes significance for green development, climate finance & LiFE (Life style for environment), accelerated, inclusive and resilient growth, digital public infrastructure and women led development.
Member organisations may also focus on our common 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for a better, liveable world by 2030- with zero poverty, no inequality and be pro-active on climate change as our main agenda. This entails economic development which is both balanced and sustainable.
As members of APRACA, let us, therefore, work together to walk ahead and bring the change we wish to see.
(Shaji K V)