Hon’ble Minister Shri L. N. Sharma convened a press conference

Gangtok, June 3(IPR): Hon’ble Minister for Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Husbandry Shri L. N. Sharma convened a press conference today to divulge on the decisions made in the meeting held on 2nd June with Banking Organisations and FPO representatives regarding credit linkage and extension.

The press conference also had the presence of Principal Secretary, Agriculture and Horticulture, Shri R. Telang, Chief Executive Officer, SOM, Dr. S. Anbalagan, General Manager, RBI Gangtok, Shri Ravindra Sangvai, and Representative of Lead Bank and Convenor, SLDC, Shri Aftab Ahmed Malik.

Hon’ble Minister Shri L.N. Sharma in his address stated that the Government realized that farmers and small entrepreneurs who have the zeal to work and augment one’s economy is often hindered by the lack of financial assistance or back up to support their endeavour and sustain their interest.
In view of this, the Government has decided to link the farmers with the bankers for all activities related to agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry, informed the Hon’ble Minister.

During the briefing, the Hon’ble Minister made the following announcements:

1. All the banks in the State will stipulate every Wednesday for farmers to extensively engage with the banks. On this day, farmers can interact with the branch managers and receive all the required support and guidance. Every Wednesday, each bank throughout the State will be fully dedicated to the farmers.

2. On the first Thursday of each month, the officers of the Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Husbandry Departments will jointly hold a meeting with the officials of all banks and concerned stakeholders. The meeting will review the progress made by farmers as well as assess the challenges faced by them. The meeting will also be a platform for immediate sanction of various schemes and incentives to deserving farmers of the districts.

3. The Hon’ble Minister announced that the Government will organize a new program called ‘Credit Mela’ where the project and proposal of farmers and entrepreneurs will be scrutinized on the spot and loan will be sanctioned immediately. He informed that the project will be launched from the West District and three constituencies of West Sikkim will be clubbed together for the first Credit Mela. He further informed that the Mela will be held in coordination and under the supervision of the concerned Area MLAs.

4. The Hon’ble Minister termed the above initiatives as the second phase of ‘Green Economy’ aimed at increasing the GDP of the State through agriculture and allied sectors.

5. NABARD will continue to support the farmers in preparation of projects and sanction of subsidy thereof. Emphasizing on timely payment on loans, the Hon’ble Minister announced that farmers who repay their loans on time will be granted a 3% rebate on their interest.

6. Farmers will be provided with a loan of up to 1 lakh 60 thousand without any collateral. Likewise, SHGs and NGOs will be granted a one-time loan of Rs. 10 lakh without collateral.

7. The Hon’ble Minister also announced an annual award/incentive to banks which provide the maximum loans and other assistance to farmers.

8. Nodal officers will be appointed by the Department to coordinate with the banking organization to ensure timely implementation of credit linkage and other required support to the farmers. Likewise, it was decided that all the banks will appoint a nodal officer each for smooth facilitation of farmer related schemes and projects.

While interacting with the media, the Hon’ble Minister reiterated that the State Government has laid great emphasis on the development of agriculture and allied sectors for the overall economic health of the State. He said that if the people of Sikkim take the benefit of these incentives, Sikkim will be a self-reliant State. He further added that it will address the issue of unemployment as well as improve production and productivity and propel the State towards self sustenance.

Earlier, Principal Secretary, Agriculture and Horticulture, Shri R. Telang in his opening remarks briefed about the meeting held on 2nd June and the decisions taken thereafter. He informed about the decision to support the farmers and entrepreneurs through credit linkage. He further apprised that a system will be created for direct purchase of agricultural produce and inputs like seeds and organic fertilizers from the farmers, without the involvement of middlemen or intermediaries.

Shri. Ravindra Sangvai, General Manager and office incharge of RBI Gangtok in his brief address informed that efforts are made for demand and supply chain. He stated that the banking fraternity will extend all the required support and assistance to the farmers through credit extension. He lauded the initiative of the Government to stipulate every Wednesday as a banking day for farmers, as well as the monthly meeting of departmental officers with the banking organizations, and the idea of organizing credit camps/mela for farmers.

Lead Bank representative and Convenor SLDC Shri Aftab Ahmed Malik, stated that the focus will be on promoting financial literacy among the farmers and encouraging them to seek financial assistance to enhance their agricultural productivity. He assured that farmers will be provided all the required support and efforts will be made to extend the financial services right up to the sub divisional level.

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