It has been an honor and privilege to be taking over as the Chairman APRACA for the biennium 2021-23. I congratulate Mr. Qian Wenhui, Chairman ADBC (Agriculture Development Bank of China) on taking over the post of Vice-Chair. I would also like to place on record my sincere thanks to all the 87 members and the partner institutions for this honour. I assure you that we will collectively work for the betterment of the Asia-pacific region over the next two years.
The Asia-pacific region has a rural heart and an Agrarian mind with millions of people dependent on agriculture and allied activities for subsistence and growth. It is thus imperative to take initiatives that promote financial inclusion, self-reliance (Atmanirbhar), inclusive growth, better productivity, and output from farmland. APRACA has been playing a stellar role in agriculture and rural finance in the region by providing a platform for cross-learning, capacity building, research, and guidance that has resulted in reduced poverty, food security, and engagement of rural youths in gainful activities.
The year 2020 has been a difficult one but has left us with a lot of learnings. COVID-19 has posed tremendous economic and social challenges and India had taken several initiatives to mitigate its impact on the rural poor with NABARD playing a vital role in the implementation of such interventions. Similar initiatives have also been taken by our neighboring countries and I am sure that APRACA would be an ideal forum for the member countries to work together and bring about early socio-economic recovery.
The world has witnessed a digital revolution with the evolution of block-chain technology cryptocurrencies, new payment methods like UPI, branchless banking which is reducing barriers, facilitating financial inclusion, and targeted government intervention. The governments have also prioritized climate change mitigation and adaptation owing to various researches and studies which have highlighted the urgency for intervention to reverse damages already done. It is heartening that APRACA Strategic plan for 2019-24 aims for greater collaboration, sharing of innovation, and solutions that will benefit both member and non-member nations equally.
The farmers in the Asia-pacific region are predominantly small and marginal. The per capita arable and permanent cropland availability in the region is only 0.16 ha, compared to 0.37 ha in the rest of the world. These landholdings pose a challenge to viable agriculture practices and collectivization in farming is the only way forward. NABARD has promoted 5000 Farmers’ Producers Organisations (FPO) with a membership of 1.3 million farmers. The FPOs through the collectivization of agricultural production and post-harvest management have transformed agriculture into a sustainable business by taking advantage of the economies of scale by way of produce aggregation, value addition, and collective bargaining for inputs and marketing, thus enabling optimal returns to farmers for their produce. NABARD has also been providing credit guarantees to FPOs through its subsidiary to facilitate credit availability, accessibility, and affordability. We can collaborate and enable the FPOs to be a vehicle of rural transformation.
The pandemic is almost on its way out. Most of the nations are in various stages of opening up and normalcy is expected to return soon. We have to remember that Agriculture has been the only sector that not only grew but also supported the world in these crucial times. We should therefore strive and build on the intrinsic strengths of this sector and with the other sectors of the economy likely to bounce back, it’s time for APRACA nations to converge and build synergies for better results, in the field of agriculture.
I once again thank all of you for choosing India as the Chair of APRACA for the next two years and assure you that I will be doing everything in the realm of possibility to help the member nation tide over these albeit difficult times.
Before I end, I once again convey my thanks to the member nations and partner institutions for their support to APRACA, and look forward to their continued support and active contribution in the years ahead.
Dr. G. R. Chintala
Chairman NABARD &