Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister said that the Agriculture Rural Development Bank of the State was playing a significant role in economic upliftment of the farmers by providing loans on less rate of interest and a target of providing loan to the tune of Rs. 150 crore during two years had been fixed. He said that State Government would sympathetically consider the proposal of the Bank to obtain more loans from NCDC for further disbursement to the farmers at low rate of interest. He was addressing a Seminar of the Bank at Ghumarwin in district Bilaspur today.Chief Minister said that the bank had been assigned the prime responsibility to cater to the developmental and economic activities of the agriculturists of the State and to help the farming community explore employment and self-employment avenues in the agriculture sector. He said that the bank had advanced a loan of over Rs. 650 crore to the farmers since the time of its inception and added that the bank needed to ensure speedy recovery of the loan advanced so that the same could be provided to other deserving farmers to help them strengthen their economy.
Virbhadra Singh said that the bank had succeeded in acquiring working capital of Rs. 359.47 crores and had advanced a loan of Rs. 239.75 crore during successive three years, which had benefited about 45,000 borrowers. He said that the bank should sympathetically consider the genuine grievances of delay in depositing loan installments and at the same time ensure that regular recovery was made effective. He emphasized the need for helping and adopting a cooperative attitude towards the farmers of the State.
Chief Minister said that the bank also needed to diversify their activities as also to help the farmers adopt modern farming techniques so that maximum yield was procured from limited land holdings. He said that need had emerged to strengthen the basic agriculture sector keeping in view its importance for generation of employment and self-employment avenues. He said that mass awareness campaigns needed to be launched to educate the farmers of the various loaning schemes of the bank so that maximum number of farmers could avail the benefits
Virbhadra Singh said that the prime motive of the bank was to serve the small and marginal farmers of the State, dedicatedly and added that over 90 percent of the State population was dependent upon agriculture, horticulture and allied activities for their livelihood. He said that agriculture was core sector for income generation and added that creation of ARDB was also a step towards helping the farmers strengthen their economy, diversify their traditional cropping system and cultivate cash crops to generate more avenues of income.
Chief Minister said that Himachal Pradesh was one of the selected few frontal States which had implemented the Land Reform Act in letter and spirit which had reduced big land holdings to small and medium land holdings. He said that no farmers were left with big land holdings and the other holdings were manageable by its owners. He said that the land reforms had provided right of ownership to the tillers, who had been cultivating the land since generations. He said that it had also brought about social parity in the State and poor people were raised above poverty line. He said that the land reforms had been instrumental in strengthening the agriculture sector to a great extent.
Virbhadra Singh emphasized the need for liberalization and simplification of the loaning procedure by the bank so that maximum people could avail the loaning benefits. He said that ARDB was looking after the benefits and interests of the farmers and was playing a pivotal role in strengthening the farm economy. He said that awareness also needed to be created about the activities of the bank so that the people could avail the benefits available and also advised the Bank to deal with farmers in a most friendly and harmonious manner.
Kuldeep Kumar, Cooperation Minister proposed vote of thanks. He said that the bank had always been provided all help by the State Government from time to time. He said that State was moving ahead in strengthening the cooperative sector and people were joining the cooperative movement. He said that the Agriculture Rural Development Bank had successfully met its objective of facilitating farmers with low rate borrowing facilities.
Kashmir Singh Thakur, Chairman, H.P. Agriculture and Rural Development Bank welcomed the Chief Minister and thanked him for providing State guarantee which had benefittted a large number of farmers. He urged Chief Minister for providing the bank, a guarantee of Rs. 12 crore to help the bank to borrow Rs. 100 crore from the NCDC which would benefit more farmers. He also urged him to consider special package to the bank borrowers, who were unable to repay the interest over the loan they borrowed from the bank. He said that the bank had been devotedly serving the farming community and providing them liberal financial assistance from time to time. He said that more activities were also being introduced for the benefit of farmers.