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August 13, 2018

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) raises target for agriculture credit by 25pc

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has increased agriculture credit target by 25 per cent to Rs1.25trillion for the financial year FY19.

The Agriculture Credit Advisory Committee (ACAC) meeting chaired by the SBP Governor, Tariq Bajwa on Saturday reviewed the performance of banks financing for agriculture sector and found the result satisfactory. The banks achieved 97pc of Rs1tr target, set for FY18.

Overall, the disbursement target of Rs1.25tr has been assigned to banks which is 82pc of the total estimated agriculture credit requirement of Rs1.52tr for FY19, said the State Bank.

The meeting noted that the province-wise and sector-wise distribution of the target was adopted while considering provincial agricultural credit requirements, banks’ overall lending capacity and their business expansion plans.

“For the first time, Islamic banks and Islamic branches of commercial banks have been assigned a disbursement target of Rs100 billion to help realise their potential,” said the SBP.

The overall target of potential recipients of disbursement has been enhanced to 4.42 million, with an addition of 700,000 new borrowers.

During FY18, the banks disbursed Rs 972.6bn, which was over 97pc of the assigned target and 38pc higher than FY 2016-17. In terms of agriculture credit demand, banks met 72pc of the total agriculture credit requirement compared to 57pc last year.

The SBP governor added that the outstanding portfolio of agriculture credit also increased to Rs469bn serving 3.72m borrowers at end June 2018. The agri lending banks and institutions added 450,000 fresh borrowers during the year.

The meeting noted that the banks had sufficiently met their assigned targets; however, Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited, Punjab Provincial Cooperative Bank Limited, some of the domestic private banks and Islamic banks fell short of achieving their annual targets.

“The province-wise agriculture credit disbursement witnessed double-digit growth across all provinces and regions; however, banks struggled to achieve their assigned regional targets in the underserved provinces and regions,” said Mr Bajwa.

The SBP governor said that all banks should finalise recruitment of the shortlisted candidates on a priority basis and take maximum benefit from upcoming job fairs being planned by the central bank in collaboration with agriculture universities.

The committee also deliberated on the new directions in agricultural financing by focusing on digitalisation of agriculture loan processes, value chain and warehouse receipt financing, high value added crops, provision of farmer advisory services and real time crop monitoring through Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

The SBP governor said the banks must continue to innovate and provide agriculture credit while adopting digital technologies, value chain financing, high value crops and create more linkages for improving livelihoods in the country.

Furthermore, he advised banks to overcome their infrastructure gaps in order to achieve annual agricultural credit target of Rs1,250bn for FY2018-19.

The target for FY19 was not very steep compared to last year to allow the banks to bring a qualitative shift in agri financing, he said.

He said the banks need to enhance their Advances to Deposit ratio in all provinces and regions to support local economies.

Banks must adopt, replicate and scale up the existing pilots on Electronic Land Record Management Information System for efficient and timely provision of credit to small famers, he added.

Mr Bajwa said Islamic banks and branches are required to develop innovative financing products in line with agriculture sector needs.

The meeting was attended by senior officials of federal and provincial governments, presidents and CEOs of banks, members of all provincial chambers of agriculture, progressive farmers and representatives of Azad Jammu and Kashmir farming community.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2018



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