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The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has estimated a credit potential of Rs 2405.55 crore for Meghalaya under priority sector lending for the year 2020-21.

The estimation holds a lot of significance for Meghalaya, which has been largely a credit deficient state with a marginal increase in the credit deposit ratios ranging between 32-37 per cent years after years.

During a State Credit Seminar organized by NABARD on Tuesday, Meghalaya Chief Secretary, MS Rao, launched the 2020-21 State Focus Paper (SFP) for the state.

He urged the banking sector to rise to the challenges and said, “We are yet to make a significant dent through forums like State Credit Seminar.

While indicating that a re-thinking is required, Rao suggested the need to allow more participation by farmers and have interactions with them.

The State Focus Paper (SFP) exercise was a culmination of the credit planning exercise which began at the district level.

It was organised by the district development managers of NABARD in coordination with multiple stakeholders like state government departments, banks, NGOs and farmer groups.

Stressing on the importance of technology in agriculture and the need to increase productivity to address the volume of production in the State, he congratulated the efforts made by Soil and Water Conservation Department, along with NABARD and suggested that entrepreneurship in agriculture is of paramount importance.

Rao also stressed the fact that the credit-fuelled growth narrative has bypassed large chunks of farming communities in the State and that remedial action in this regard is necessary.

Principal Secretary, Agriculture, Government of Meghalaya, Shakil P Ahammed, said that farmers need to be the focal point in all interventions of the State.

“Making every farmer an entrepreneur in his own stride and encouraging market linkage and value-added products and exploring the potential in mushroom cultivation, apiculture, aquaculture, etc and encouragement in the field of tourism should be the top priority in the minds of the bankers,” he said.

Major components of the 2020-21 State Focus Paper include Rs 683.95 crore for crop loans, Rs 489.00 crore for agriculture term loans, Rs. 907.49 crore for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sector and Rs. 325.10 crore for other priority sector comprising rural housing and education loans.

Expressing concern over the consistently low credit deposit ratio in Meghalaya, NABARD officer-in-charge YK Rao said that there was a clear and definite need for the entire banking sector in Meghalaya to focus on primary sectors and indicated that KCC should be provided to all PM Kisan beneficiaries as the same has now been
extended to animal husbandry and fisheries farmers.

Taking into consideration the aspect of doubling the farmers’ income by 2022, credit to farmers, self-help groups, joint liability groups, enrolment in E-Shakti Portal, terms loans, rural housing, small transport vehicle loans, etc, were the need of the hour, he said.

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