OST Business Bureau
Lack of entrepreneurial spirit among the farmers’ community, lower credit off-take and market linkage for horticulture, dairy, fisheries and animal husbandry products defeat the very objective of the State Agricultural Policy 2013 unveiled earlier this year, according to experts.
Despite the SAP 2013 which provides various subsidies and interest subventions on purchase of farm equipment and setting up of different farm related businesses, there are few takers for such benefits, experts opined during a State level workshop on ‘Implementation of new Agriculture Policy 2013 and livelihood support and credit flow to the allied sectors of agriculture’ here on Friday.
Nearly 75% of the state population in the state is dependent on agriculture, but the sector contributes just 16% to the State GDP (GSDP), experts pointed out. Out of them, 83% are small and marginalized farmers with 10% constituting agri-labourers.
“The agriculture sector has grown at around 2% in the past few years and has witnessed a further momentum of 3.17% in the last plan period, which is more than the present national average.” Minister, Agriculture, F&ARD and Urban development Devi Prasad Mishra, Chief Guest on the occasion said.
“The State government presented a separate agricultural budget for the first time, under which allocation has been made to the tune of Rs 7, 000 crore. Besides, the state government is offering agricultural loan at a nominal interest rate of 2% to farmers,” Mishra added.
“Despite the state economy being largely reliant on agriculture, credit off-take in case of farmers is very low and bank finance is not easily available,” he said adding, “while there are around 50 lakh beneficiaries under the KCC in the state, very few of them are taking advantage of the scheme.”
He urged bankers in the state to increase their lending to the agriculture sector, which is a priority sector.
Besides, the minister stressed on application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for facilitating the development of Agriculture and allied activities.
“The use of Internet and other electronic media can be the most cost effective and useful way of disseminating technology and commercial information to promote development of agriculture and allied activities,” he said.
“Providing market linkage for the farmer’s produce, setting up facilitation centres for disbursing credit to the farmers and satellite farming through use of upgraded technology are the means to develop the sector,” the minister added.
“The entrepreneurial skills in the farmers need to be explored, which is a missing link in the sector,” Subhalakshmi Panse, Chairman and MD, Allahabad Bank, said.
She emphasized on field visits by the bankers / lenders to ensure the proper end-use of the credit by the farmers, besides encouraging them to go for double / multiple cropping instead of only adhering to single cropping model. She also stressed upon providing them adequate market and credit linkage.
The state government is giving thrust on the food processing sector, an allied sector to agriculture, as part of its Food Processing Policy, under which incentives are provided to entrepreneurs for setting up mega food parks, according to Secretary MSME, Panchanan Dash.
“The sector provides an employment to around 1 lakh people through around 27, 000 MSMEs in the state, he said.
“Odisha Food Processing Policy (OFPP)- 2013, formulated in May this year, aims at value addition and waste reduction of the farm produce thereby increasing the income of farmers. It also has an objective to maximize direct and indirect employment generation opportunities in the food processing sector and increase the flow of investment across the supply chain from farm to market,” Dash said.
“Government provides a capital grant of Rs 50 crore to entrepreneurs coming forward with proposals to set up mega food parks in the SPV mode and having a land of at least 50 acres and a member of food processing unit should be part of the SPV,” he added.
Various bankers and other stakeholders expressed their willingness to lend more to the agriculture and allied sectors.