Cooperation Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday suggested NABARD to an overall target the next 25 years and divide the period further into five phases and evaluate the performance annually for bringing the desired development in rural areas.

Addressing the Foundation Day of Mumbai-based National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) in Delhi, Shah also advised that all employees of the organisation should be involved in fixing such targets.

Shah said NABARD should fix its targets keeping in view its past performance and future requirements.

“A stage has come today that we cannot imagine rural economy without NABARD,” Shah said, highlighting the achievements of the organisation which played a key role in financing agriculture development and rural infrastructure. He said that a nation with 65 per cent rural population cannot prosper without NABARD.

Citing the instance of the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) launch in 1998 when there was no digitisation in the country, he said, “I was a PACS chairman at that time and I wondered how it could be done. However, thanks to NABARD, as many as 7.5 crore farmers have KCCs now.”

Unlike the normal credit card used by the common man, KCC was initially a scheme for hassle-free credit to farmers through banks. However, a KCC cardholder now has access to credit from any ATM by using the ‘debit card’ issued for that purpose.

The minister also lauded the work of NABARD in the promotion of self-help groups (SHGs) and supporting villages to become self-reliant. He underlined the need for cooperation among cooperative organisations to promote rural development.