Jan 15, 2014
Bankers from leading institutions believe that banking schemes for farmers should be made part of school curriculum to enhance financial literacy.
There is no dearth of financial schemes for the Indian farmers, but their benefit could not be reaped unless farmers are educated on them. This was the unanimous view of all the bankers at the roundtable in New Delhi to discuss various issues related to the issue of financing sustainable agriculture.
The roundtable meet, ‘Financing for Sustainable Agriculture’, was organised by the Uttarakhand-based Shri Jagdamba Samiti (SJS) along with OneWorld.
Ved Mathur, Deputy General Manager, Punjab National Bank, talking about the importance of financial literacy, said that there should be some organisation which can take the onus of educating farmers about the different financial schemes being run by the banks.
Mathur rued that around ninety nine per cent of the target audience do know about the existing products which are beneficial for them. “Why are we still teaching archaic issues in our classrooms? Children in schools should be taught about Kisan Credit Card Scheme (KCC) and other such initiatives being run for the welfare of farmers,” he said.
According to Mathur, the most important concern is to make the farmer aware and to provide him with relevant information. From the banker’s view point, there are two aspects of finance, one is demand side and other is supply side, he stated. “While on demand side it is important to have financial literacy, it is equally important that NGOs and other government organisations are financially literate. On the banker’s side the most important aspect for credit dispensation with transparency and efficiency are the credit camps,” Mathur said.
He urged for similar initiatives like the one being carried out by Punjab National Bank which has opened ten farmers' training college all over India. “You can see the wonderful work being done at these centres for the enhancement of financial literacy. Banking personnel also have a very important role in spreading the word about schemes beneficial to farmers. They can do so by communicating about such schemes to students in the locals schools,” Mathur said.
Y P Arora, Chairman, Uttarakhand Gramin Bank, underlined the need for educating farmers on various loans and methods by which they can reduce the amount of interest which they end up paying on the borrowed amount.
Talking about the existing knowledge gap even among the banking professionals, he said how could the farmers be expected to know about the best schemes when sometimes, even the banking personnel are not informed about them.
“Our bank has launched many products catering to the need of people of Uttarakhand. But unless the end users are made aware of various schemes, they would not able to make the real benefit,” he said.
S K Sharma, Deputy General Manager, UCO Bank, said that the Indian government has taken several steps for increasing financial inclusion. “As per the government directives, every village with a population of more than two thousand will have a bank branch and for those with population less than that will have an ultra small branch with a provision of a business correspondent,” he said.