Hanoi (VNA) – The Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) hosted the Regional Policy Forum of the Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA) on July 20 in Hanoi.

This is APRACA's first large-scale in-person event to be held after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The forum, themed “Promoting Digital Financial Services as a Critical Vehicle to Financial Inclusion for Farmer Collectives”, drew the participation of 60 international delegates from APRACA's member organisations and representatives of the State Bank of Vietnam, the country’s ministries and several foreign organisations in Vietnam.

Speaking online from India, Govinda Rajulu Chintala, Chairman of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development of India (NABARD) and the APRACA President emphasised the importance of agricultural and rural development in national and regional socio-economic strategies.

However, he pointed out several challenges that the sector is facing today, especially low productivity, asynchronous infrastructure and climate change.

To support inclusive agriculture, meet the needs of sustainable development, and improve farmer incomes, it is necessary to ensure finance for agricultural management. Finance plays an important role in comprehensive financial development for agriculture, rural areas and farmers, he said.

Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam Nguyen Kim Anh said that, being aware of the important role of financial inclusion, on January 22, 2020, the Vietnamese Prime Minister issued a national financial strategy until 2025 with a vision to 2030.

The results achieved during the implementation of the strategy over the past two years have been recognized. These include important contributions to the development of financial products and services and payment infrastructure, the improvement of financial knowledge for businesses, and the perfection of mechanisms to protect consumers. These results help raise economic growth and people's incomes, he added.

At the forum, delegates discussed issues such as trends and opportunities to apply digital financial services to achieve financial inclusion goals. Also discussed were extended models to support farmer collectives in the Asia-Pacific region. Delegates also shared results and experience of countries in financial inclusion development in the field of agriculture and rural areas.

In the afternoon of the same day, the APRACA’s 75th Executive Committee Meeting was held, with the participation of 18 official members of the executive committee and over 40 delegates from member organisations./.