Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday advised NABARD to take steps to augment rural credit by correcting regional imbalances for better productivity in rural areas including in the non-farm sector.

Chairing a review meeting on NABARD, Sitharaman also emphasised the need for concerted efforts to sensitise farmers to shift towards more remunerative but less water-guzzling crops, especially millets, pulses and oilseeds.

With production and marketing of Shree Anna as a national priority in the ongoing international year of millets 2023, Sitharaman directed NABARD to encourage farmers to enhance the area covered under millets, and to protect the returns of farmers who are already growing millets.

Also read: ‘Procure millets such as ragi, jowar and provide them instead of rice’

The detailed review of working of NABARD was undertaken by the Union Finance Minister in the presence of Nabard Chairman KV Shaji and Department of Financial Services (DFS) Secretary Vivek Joshi and other senior officials of DFS.

Sitharaman took note of the significant initiatives of NABARD in recent years and advised the institution to work towards ensuring efficiency and outcomes at the ground level with improvement in rural income as top priority.

She also directed NABARD to facilitate the aggregation of organic producers by Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), with a focus on the North-East.

Sitharaman said that improving the digital capabilities of Rural Financial Institutions, including RRBs, be facilitated on priority for augmenting meaningful financial inclusion.

In reference to various measures taken by NABARD in the aftermath of the Finance Minister’s visit to various States to drive development and financial inclusion, the NABARD Chairman apprised Sitharaman about the development package of ₹25,991 crore for infrastructure development, FPOs, SHGs, off farm development for Jammu and Kashmir.

Also read: Millets need a procurement push

North East focus

He also informed the FM about the enhanced RIDF allocation for 2022-23 from ₹800 crore to ₹1,400 crore. NABARD Chairman also pointed out to the Finance Minister that ₹366.93 crore has been released for Jammu & Kashmir towards recapitalisation of 3DCCBs.

For Nagaland, the Finance Minister was apprised about the saturation of all Government schemes and also about 256 credit outreach camps that were organised in the State by the banks where 38,370 loans have been sanctioned.

For Karnataka, the NABARD Chairman told the Finance Minister that RIDF support of ₹25 crore has been approved for UAS, Raichur of Millet Value Chair Park.