“Agriculture Credit to Farmers in India- an Overview on Structure and an Assessment on Current Issues”

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Farming is an age-old means of livelihood for millions of Indians. Today, India ranks second worldwide in farm output. Agriculture and allied sectors like forestry and logging accounted for 16.6% of the GDP in 2007 employed 52% of the total workforce and despite a steady decline of its share in the GDP, still plays a significant role in the overall socio-economic development of India. Bank credit is available to the farmers in the form of short-term credit for financing crop production programmes and in the form of medium-term/long–term credit for financing capital investment in agriculture and allied activities like land development including purchase of land, minor irrigation, farm mechanisation, dairy development, poultry, animal husbandry, fisheries, plantation, and horticulture. Loans are also available for storage, processing and marketing of agricultural produce. The Agricultural Credit Policy essentially lays emphasis on augmenting credit flow at the ground level through credit planning, adoption of region-specific strategies, rationalisation of lending policies and procedures and bringing down the cost of borrowing. The analysis reveals that the credit delivery to the agriculture sector continues to be inadequate. It appears that the banking system is still hesitant on various grounds to purvey credit to small and marginal farmers. The situation calls for rigorous efforts to boost the flow of credit to agriculture, together with exploring new innovations in product design and methods of delivery, through better use of technology and related processes. Facilitating credit through processors, input dealers, NGOs, etc., that are vertically integrated with the farmers, including through contract farming, for providing them critical inputs or processing their produce, could increase the credit flow to agriculture significantly.

Farming is an age-old means of livelihood for millions of Indians. Agriculture plays a crucial role in the development of the Indian economy. It accounts for about 19 per cent of GDP and about two thirds of the population is dependent on the sector. The importance of farm credit as a critical input to agriculture is reinforced by the unique role of Indian agriculture in the macroeconomic framework and its role in poverty alleviation. Recognising the importance of agriculture sector in India’s development, the Government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have played a vital role in creating a broad-based institutional framework for catering to the increasing credit requirements of the sector. Agricultural policies in India have been reviewed from time to time to maintain pace with the changing requirements of the agriculture sector, which forms an important segment of the priority sector lending of scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) and target of 18 per cent of net bank credit has been stipulated for the sector. The Approach Paper to the Eleventh Five Year Plan has set a target of 4 per cent for the agriculture sector within the overall GDP growth target of 9 per cent. In this context, the need for affordable, sufficient and timely supply of institutional credit to agriculture has assumed critical importance. Problems

Slow agricultural growth is a concern for policymakers as some two-thirds of India’s people depend on rural employment for a living. Current agricultural practices are neither economically nor environmentally sustainable and India's yields for many agricultural commodities are low. Poorly maintained irrigation systems and almost universal lack of good extension services are among the factors responsible. Farmers' access to markets is hampered by poor roads, rudimentary market infrastructure, and excessive regulation. —World Bank: "India Country Overview 2008" Agricultural credit...
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