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Govt to upgrade 250 PACs to banking outlets to aid farmers

Kolkata: With an objective to increase credit to farmers, the state government is going to upgrade 250 Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACs) to banking outlets.
"We have taken the decision to convert 250 Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies to banking outlets, in the Gram Panchayats (GP) where there are no bank branches at a proximity of around 10 kilometres," Additional Chief Secretary of state Finance department H K Dwivedi said, while addressing the State Credit Seminar 2018-19, organised by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) on Monday. There are around 700 GPs in the state where there are no banks.
According to Dwivedi, the commercial banks' credit advancement to agriculture and its allied sector has been lacking in the state, leading to a low Credit-Deposit Ratio (CDR) in Bengal.
"Total Credit-Deposit Ratio stands at an average of around 70 per cent in the state, which is less than the national average. The main reason is reluctance of the banking sector to advance credit to agriculture and its allied sectors, which is one of the priority sector-lending areas. In some districts, the ratio is as poor as 40 per cent," he said.
NABARD unveiled "State Focus Paper for 2018-19" and "Area Development Scheme for Bengal 2018-2023" on Monday, that showed ground-level credit flow to the agriculture sector had not achieved the targets during 2011-12 to 2016-17.
According to the Focus Paper which forms the base for credit planning by banks for 2018-19, state credit potential of Rs 1,10,137.19 crore has been estimated for 2018-19, against a potential of Rs 95,288 crore for the year 2017-18, which is an increase of 15.58 per cent. Of the total credit projections for 2018-19, around Rs 63,196 crore was estimated for agriculture.
Talking about the state's focus on agriculture and its allied sectors in the last few years, he said that the total expenditure in the sector was around Rs 3,029 crore in 2010-11, which has been increased to around Rs 16,700 crore in 2016-17.
"The state's warehousing capacity is expected to be almost 10 lakh tonnes by the end of the current fiscal, from about 62,000 tonnes in 2010-11," he added.
It may be mentioned that the state has also increased procurement from farmers. The procurement of rice, which was not more than 13-14 lakh tonnes in 2010-11, has gone up to 52 lakh tonnes now.
Recently, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has written to the state Food and Supplies department, seeking delivery of rice for Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Jharkhand, thanks to excellent rice procurement.

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