“Financial Inclusion” in India can truly be delivered through a framework which has “Farmers” at its heart. Do we need to realign some of the policies?
More than 2/3rd of India’s population is dependent on Agriculture and allied agriculture activities. Bulk of our farming community belongs to Small and marginal category who own 83 % operational holdings with 63% of farmers being marginal and having landholding <1ha.
Any Financial Inclusion framework which is not aligned to these facts and ignores to genuinely take care of the interests of agriculture and of the small & marginal farmers, may never deliver the real “Inclusion”.
A sound financial inclusion policy primarily needs to primarily focus on increasing productivity, viability and bringing lasting improvement in the economic condition of the small, marginal and tenant farmers and sharecroppers and wagers.
The rural development framework which include agriculture and financial inclusion policies need to focus on attaining economic well-being of the bulk of farming community, retaining educated youth in agriculture and rejuvenating the Indian agriculture. This would automatically help create multiple livelihood opportunities through crop livestock integrated farming systems, agro processing and allied businesses.
It’s time we recognise that a Rs. 10,000-20,000 credit is inadequate to cultivate half an acre of land or buy a productive milch animal or create an asset which can sustain the living of a household. Dormant accounts without any money flowing in and out cannot be considered inclusion. The rural people (farmers, landless labourers, sharecroppers and agri wage earners) need to create income generating assets that are sustainable, meets household needs and give an opportunity to aspire for a living which is above level of subsistence. While the current practices, policies and instinitutional efforts have helped the poor farmers and agri wage earners but it surely needs to be augmented and enhanced by increasing the scale and approach to bring the farmers out of subsistence and poverty and create a sustainable livelihood system ( both farm and off farm).Multiplicity of policies and frameworks without addressing the target segment in very focussed manner may not yield the desired results. Else it will remain an unfinished process or turn into an “on the paper inclusion”
Do we need to realign some of the policies or even dovetail the various policies aspiring to achieve “inculsive gowth” for our country? This may surely be a step forward to achieve “true & lasting financial inclusion” and may contribute to creation sustainable food and nutritional security for the country.