KARACHI: Banks disbursed agricultural credit of Rs704.5 billion in 2016-17, exceeding the annual target of Rs700bn set by the Agricultural Credit Advisory Committee (ACAC).

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) issued on Wednesday a report about the banks’ performance in the agriculture sector. Agricultural credit in 2016-17 was 17.8 per cent higher than the disbursement in the preceding year.

“The agricultural credit outreach increased to 3.27 million farmers from 2.4m farmers last year,” said the SBP report.

“The achievement of the agricultural credit disbursement target was an uphill task due to the high-risk perception of banks about agricultural financing and volatile prices of agricultural commodities,” it said.

Five major banks collectively disbursed agricultural loans of Rs342bn, which was 100.6pc of their annual target of Rs340bn. Their disbursement was 9.9pc higher than Rs311.4bn disbursed a year ago.

Amongst the five major banks, National Bank achieved 105pc of its annual target, MCB Bank 103.2pc, Habib Bank 101pc, United Bank 100.5pc and Allied Bank 85.4pc.

Under the category of specialised banks, Zarai Taraqiati Bank disbursed Rs92.5bn or 90.2pc of its annual target of Rs102.5bn in 2016-17.

Fifteen domestic private banks achieved as a group 99.6pc of their annual target. Within this group, Soneri Bank, Bank of Punjab, Bank of Khyber, Bank Alfalah, Faysal Bank, JS Bank, Habib Metro Bank, Summit Bank and Silk Bank surpassed their annual targets.

Sindh Bank achieved 94.3pc of its annual target, First Women Bank 90.2pc, Bank Al Habib 84pc, Askari Bank 81pc and Standard Chartered Bank 73.5pc.

Ten microfinance banks surpassed as a group their annual target of Rs60.1bn by disbursing agricultural loans of Rs87.8bn.

Sixteen newly inducted microfinance institutions/rural support programmes collectively disbursed loans of Rs19.9bn to small and marginalised farmers against their annual target of Rs34.3bn.

Four Islamic banks as a group surpassed their annual target by disbursing Rs12.3bn against the target of Rs11bn. BankIslami, Meezan Bank and Dubai Islamic Bank surpassed their respective annual targets while Albaraka Bank achieved 80pc of its annual target in 2016-17.

The government has set an agricultural disburse

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