LAHORE: State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Dr Reza Baqir on Monday appreciated the banks for providing unprecedented Rs1.4 trillion agri loans during 2020-21.
Chairing the annual meeting of the Agricultural Credit Advisory Committee (ACAC) in Multan, Dr Baqir acknowledged the fact that despite Covid-19 pandemic challenges, collective efforts of 50 financial institutions under ACAC guidance helped to achieve 91pc of the assigned target.
He said that banks’ leadership could now take this journey to the next level of qualitative improvement in agriculture credit in line with the strategic shift and key policy actions taken by the SBP.
SBP sets Rs1.7tr target for the current fiscal year
Announcing the current year’s agriculture credit target of Rs1.7tr with 5 million borrowers, the governor marked the insistent need to address quality of credit, its geographical imbalances and uneven distribution amongst different categories of borrowers.
He announced two new measures to help boost agriculture financing, firstly, a comprehensive scoring model to rank banks according to key agriculture credit indicators and targets. To foster a competitive environment, the banks performing well will duly be recognised whereas underperforming banks will be strongly encouraged to focus on metrics where improvement is needed.
He said the second measure designates a bank volunteering to serve as a champion/lead bank in an underserved province/area. Further steps in this regard include establishing help desks in underserved areas to facilitate farmers, and launching targeted and collaborative awareness drives for an extensive outreach.
He said that the SBP’s vision will serve two-fold purposes; enhancing farmers’ financial inclusion while providing more lending opportunities to the banks.
Upon convening ACAC meeting in Multan, the governor especially highlighted the immense agricultural potential of the area and the opportunities in expanding agriculture finance.
This was followed by a presentation on the performance of banks in agricultural financing. The ACAC deliberated on the new directions in agricultural financing, particularly the climate-smart agriculture practices and the role that financial institutions can play.
Moreover, the committee also discussed avenues to enhance the efficiency of existing agriculture credit infrastructure across the country.
In the second session of ACAC, new and innovative ideas were presented by selected banks and other stakeholders in the area of value chain solutions, electronic warehouse receipt financing, digital loan origination system and horticulture value chain financing.
The ACAC approved the new ideas and set targets for scaling up pilot projects.
The ACAC meeting was attended by senior officials of federal and provincial governments, presidents/CEOs of banks, members of provincial chambers of agriculture, progressive farmers, representatives of regional farming communities and SBP senior officials.