World Bank , India ink $250 mn loan for rural West Bengal

New Delhi : The World Bank today signed a $ 250 million credit and loan agreement with the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, and the Government of West Bengal for increasing agricultural production of small and marginal farmers.

About 139,000 hectares (ha) of irrigated area are expected to be developed under the West Bengal Accelerated Development of Minor Irrigation Project (ADMIP), benefitting an estimated 166,000 farm families.

Agriculture serves as the backbone of West Bengal’s rural economy. It accounts for about 20 percent of the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides employment to more than 55 percent of workers in the state. Agricultural growth over the past decade was on average about 3 percent per annum.

Maintaining this growth rate requires infrastructure support, crop diversification and market access. There is, however, very little scope for increasing the current cultivable area with more than 93 percent of landholders belonging to small and marginal farmer categories with land areas of less than one or two ha respectively.

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