Gangtok, 9th January 2024: The Hon’ble Finance Minister, Government of India, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, handed over/announced the sanction worth of Rs 52.87 crore of funds for developmental initiatives by NABARD to boost rural development during her visit to Sikkim for Credit Outreach Programme on January 6, 2024. The noteworthy initiatives included support for rural connectivity (Rs 50.71 crore), a grant of Rs 1.29 crore for livelihood support to tribal households, Rs 28.28 lakh for ongoing orchard-based livelihood intervention, Rs 22.79 lakhs for spring shed development intervention aiming to rejuvenate 12 identified springs crucial for the water supply to 850 families, grant assistance of Rs 34.50 lakh to Sikkim State Cooperative Bank Ltd. (SISCO) for financial inclusion initiatives, including conducting 200 Financial Literacy camps and providing 100 micro-ATMs to identified Milk Cooperative Societies. Esteemed key dignitaries, including Shri Prem Singh Tamang, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Sikkim; Shri Vivek Joshi, Secretary, DFS, Government of India; and Shri Shaji K.V., Chairman of NABARD were present during the event. The Hon’ble Finance Minister also acknowledged the immense potential for Sikkim to grow and the crucial role of banking and development & refinancing institutions like NABARD, in rebuilding the state after the flash floods.
NABARD organized an interaction program with a group of FPOs in the state with Dr. Vivek Joshi, Secretary, DFS, Government of India on January 7, 2024, at Namchi. Dr. Joshi was accompanied by Shri Shaji K.V., Chairman of NABARD, and Shri P K Goyal, Joint Secretary, DFS, Government of India. FPO members represented four FPOs, namely Sankhu Radhu Khandu Farmers Organic Producer Cooperative Society Ltd from Gyalshing district, along with Bermiok Tokal Farmer Producer’s Cooperative Society Ltd., Passi Farmer Producer’s Cooperative Society Ltd., and Gangchung Farmer Producer’s Cooperative Society Ltd. from Namchi district. The Secretary DFS interacted with the FPO representatives at length and deliberated on their set of activities, their role, and the benefits that this aggregation of farmers into FPOs had brought to the individual farmers. He also expressed that this interaction greatly helped to understand the ground realities of the FPOs’ activities, the spread of credit, and other Banking activities in far-flung areas and urged banks to expedite the process of credit disbursements. He advised stakeholders to orient their activities actively towards the small, marginal, and dairy farmers given their significance to the economy.
Shri Shaji K.V., Chairman, NABARD, in his address, highlighted the priority of NABARD in strengthening cooperatives. He stated, “NABARD has continued its efforts to support FPOs presently under the umbrella of Cooperatives.” He further stressed the need for strengthening the value chain of agricultural commodities via such FPOs. “The convergence of funding support reflects NABARD’s dedication to strengthen the agricultural value chain. Notably, in Sikkim, where every FPO is registered under the Cooperative Societies Act, we take pride in supporting these entities directly from our own financial resources. The successful transition of all MPCSs to the ‘go live trial’ stage in PACS computerization project marks a pioneering achievement. We appreciate the FPOs for providing valuable insights, ensuring our interventions align with ground-level reality,” he added.