Any talk about development in the State will look out of place unless the development concerns in the rural areas are addressed. Indeed, the region’s general development will be possible only when we have inclusive rural development all along, empowering the rural communities economically. We have vast potentials across our rural landscape waiting to be tapped but the lack of a sustained focus from successive governments has hindered realization of that goal. The NABARD chairman’s assertion that it was looking to increase its involvement in the State is welcome and if NABARD can meet the goals in the region set by it, it will be a major boost to the rural economy. With the Union Budget 2021-22 putting emphasis on creation of agriculture and rural infrastructure, NABARD has its job cut out. Being a facilitator of agriculture and rural development through creation of assets and infrastructure, it needs to give a harder push to meet its mandate. The role of the State Government will also be crucial here, as it needs to coordinate with NABARD in identifying the most needy requiring the interventions and addressing their concerns.

Agriculture, horticulture, fishery, dairy, piggery, goatery, floriculture, etc., are areas holding immense scope in the State. No doubt, some progress has certainly been made in these spheres in recent years due to the active involvement of some local entrepreneurs and meaningful interventions by agencies such as NABARD but a lot still remains to be done. For realizing all this, the need is to prepare a roadmap with a vision and go about implementing it with local rural populaces as active stakeholders. The fishery sector in particular has seen some growth in the past few years with many youths taking to it in a big way. Since development is an interconnected matter that calls for interventions in diverse spheres, a holistic approach is a dire need. The farmers or the fish producers, for instance, will need proper all-weather road connectivity to sell their yield and earn adequate remuneration. Similarly, they will also need market linkage, institutional finance, etc., to begin their ventures and sustain it as well. A young entrepreneur who has done a commendable job in pisciculture and has successfully involved hundreds of villagers in the venture with NABARD support recently recalled how a reputed bank had denied him a loan of just Rs 10,000 which he needed to start his firm a few years back. If bank officials exhibit such a mentality, creating a bunch of spirited entrepreneurs will remain a mirage. Many a time, our prospective farmers or entrepreneurs lack the expertise and technological knowhow to be successful in their ventures. Thankfully, NABARD is now reaching out to many such needy farmers with the required interventions but it is still a long way to go. Promoting startups in the agriculture sector is another area where NABARD can play a key role.