Sunday, September 24, 2017 | ePaper

Farmers not bank oriented: BKB Chairman

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Reza Mahmud :
Bangladesh Krishi Bank (BKB) will disburse Tk 10,000 crore farm loans under the current fiscal year (2017-18) aiming at economic development of rural Bangladesh as well as boosting farm production.
Out of the total amount, Tk 5,500 crore will be disbursed to the farmers for crops production and the remaining amount to SME, fisheries, poultry and dairy farming and other sectors.
"The prime function of the bank is disbursement of agro-credit. We're pursuing the goal extending credit facilities to farmers, individuals and corporate bodies engaged in crop production, horticulture, forestry and fisheries," Mohammad Ismail, Chairman of the Board of Directors of BKB told The New Nation recently.
He said, the bank also offers financial and technical assistance to agro-based and cottage industries in rural and as well as urban areas and provides short, medium, and long-term financing for production, processing, warehousing and marketing of agriculture and agro-based industrial products.
When asked, Mohammad Ismail said, BKB is supposed to give preference to the credit needs of small farmers and other disadvantaged groups to enhance farm production.
"Farmers are the main target group of the bank for the overall development of the country's agriculture sector. But it is receiving poor response from the segment ultimately hindering its lending practice," he noted.
The bank set Tk 7,250 crore farm loan disbursement target in the last fiscal (2016-17). But it could not achieve the target due to lack of sufficient loan seekers.
The bank achieved 90 per cent of its loan target in the last fiscal.
"The marginal farmers in most rural areas are yet to become bank-oriented, and the ultra poor feel easy to take loans from micro-credit lenders. Besides, there are negligible number of agro-based entrepreneurs in rural areas. We may disburse loans to them if they come to our bank," he observed.
"We're always ready to extent credit facilities to farmers and agro-entrepreneurs from all the branches of the BKB, because it is the country's only bank that promotes agro-credit," said Mohammad Ismail.  
He also said the main loan flow from the bank is for those of the farmers who have own land to cultivate. But we have some important schemes for the ultra poor people also. These are 'Bityahin loan, Swanirbhar Bangladesh scheme, loan for cottage industries in rural areas, and such others.
The ultra poor people are being benefited from those schemes.
"The ultra poor people are mostly taking loans from NGO's and village money lenders. But our efforts are to bring them into the mainstream economic activities by disbursing loans to them. We have targeted to disburse Tk 500 crore to the schemes fixed for ultra poor people in the fiscal year 2017-18," he said.
Replaying to a question, Mohammad Ismail said, "It is very important to expand our fish, poultry and dairy sectors for enlarging the GDP. Those farming can help employment generation and poverty reduction in Bangladesh. It can also reduce a big portion of malnutrition in our country."  
He also stressed the need for appropriate steps to extension of agriculture, as it is the mainstay of Bangladesh economy. "It is very essential to bring new dimension of farmers to produce and earn more from the same lands. The Department of Agriculture Extension is working in this field. We're supporting them with loans," he said.
Responding to a query, the BKB Chairman said, the bank's bad loan amounted Tk 4,300 crore in the last fiscal year (2016-17), compared with Tk 4,800 crore in the previous fiscal year.
"We have already intensified our loan recovery drive and we would be able to reduce amount of bad loans by Tk. 2,100 crore soon," he said, adding, "We have plan to bring down the loans by half in every fiscal year."
The BKB chairman claimed that loan-recovery performance of the bank is better than other public banks in the country. It has already recovered Tk 500 crore in this fiscal year.
He also said that BKB has rescheduled the loans of farmers who have been affected by recent floods. So, the farmers are under no pressure to repay their loans now. They can repay it next year. "We are not the right authority to give any kinds of waiver to the borrowers. The government can do it," he said.

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