More and more banks are coming forward to help the farmers, major portion of the population of the country. Following this the Centurion Bank of Punjab (CBoP) has allocated about Rs 1,200 crore for the agriculture sector in the states of the north.
The bank has funded about Rs 600 crore and the rest would be disbursed by March 2008. The bank financed Rs 419 crore last year under agriculture loan. This leapfrog under the agriculture credit was the result of commercialization of agriculture in the region. This will also help in eliminating middlemen who cheat the farmers.
Managing Director and CEO of the bank Shailendra Bhandari informed the bank have a team of 250 agriculture graduates to explain the farmers about the modern techniques of farming, which could get them better returns.
He further added that the stagnation in the agricultural incomes in the past few years could be overcome if the agricultural funding was joined with technological upgrade. He told that by March 2008 the bank would be hiring 100 more agriculture graduates to meet the target of higher agriculture lending.
The small and marginal farmers who will not be able to take loan, the bank is considering to boost cooperative farming to help them.
At present the bank has funded about 20,000 farmers in north and is expected to add around 20,000-25,000 more farmers in the next year.
Bhandari said over 1,000 SMEs were financed by the bank in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh and Rs 430 crore was disbursed in the last one year.
According to him the direct bank lending is being introduced to eliminate the middlemen who fleece the farmers.
He informed the bank has 20 licences to open new branches. And it is open to both organic and inorganic growth. The bank registered a growth of 70 per cent from March 06 to March 07.
He said the low frill saving account is being introduced for the weaker sections of society and would be simplified further to make it more users friendly.