Banks Asked to Dedicate 20% of Their Branches to Agricultural Lending

The Agricultural Credit Advisory Committee (ACAC) has proposed that banks should dedicate at least 20 per cent of total branches to agri-lending.

A meeting for setting annual targets for agricultural loans and their monitoring, took place in Quetta on Friday. The meeting was chaired by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa.

In the meeting, financial institutions were advised to consider the agriculture financing as a strategic improvement in their growth. Mr. Bajwa congratulated ACAC members for exceeding the Rs 700 billion target for the fiscal year 20161-7.

Areas That Need Work

Mr. Bajwa highlighted that the areas that require attention are:

  • Strategic achievement of Rs. 1 trillion disbursement target.
  • Allowing smallholder farmers to address their credit needs, particularly for production loans by increasing financial inclusion.
  • Rationalizing the markup rates on agricultural financing to pass on the benefit of historically low discount rate.
  • Increasing bank’s footprint in under-served regions and provinces for reducing regional disparities.

He highlighted that the major challenges faced by the industry are provision of finance to small and marginalised farmers, addressing geographical and sectoral imbalances and financing to non-crop activities.

Untapped Potential

Mr Bajwa said that the institutions would be able to reach areas like Balochistan if they come up with new ideas and products.

He also stated that there is a huge scope and demand for Sharia-compliant agri-financing products.

Other ways of improvement highlighted in the meeting:

  • Islamic banks should increase their focus on Islamic agri-financing.
  • The banks should make agri-finance a key indicator of the banks’ performance.
  • Banks should adopt an automated land record management system and branch-less banking channels to reduce operational costs and rationalize markup rates.
  • The banks should ensure capacity building of banking officials in under-served areas and use service-providers to support farmers in pre- and post-harvest activities.

The meeting was attended by senior officers of SBP, presidents and executives of commercial banks, specialized banks, microfinance banks & Islamic banks, representatives from federal & provincial governments, and chamber of agriculture/ farmers associations.

Via PkRevenue

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