Participation in the Krishi Mela by Canara Bank is another way of staying connected to all those related to farming, especially to the farmers. The bank is a major player in farm financing, involved in lending to farmers even before nationalisation. Canara Bank, which started recruiting agriculture graduates way back in 1969, has ensured that agricultural credit kept pace with the growth of the bank.

What is noteworthy is that the bank stayed rooted to the basic philosophy of ‘being a banker for the common man’. The bank has more than 4 million agricultural loans and nearly half of them are to small and marginal farmers, agricultural labourers, tenant farmers, etc. The agriculture credit portfolio of the bank is nearly Rs 32,300 crore. The bank has a wide range of credit services and products for farmers. The products are tailor made to meet their working-capital requirements and even household consumption needs under the Kisan Credit Card Scheme, which now is enabled with debit cards.

Purpose-specific or a comprehensive farm-development package of credit is available for necessities like tractors, land levelling, minor irrigation, etc.

The bank also extends post-harvest credit under schemes such as Kisan Tatkal, produce loans and warehouse receipt financing. Allied activities such as dairy, and goat and sheep rearing help reduce risks for small farmers dependant on the ever-fluctuating monsoon. The bank has well-designed schemes for these projects and has a substantial portfolio for these activities. The bank has now taken up a special project on dairy financing in memory of late Verghese Kurien, the doyen of the Indian dairy sector.

However, the role of the bank does not stop with farm-level needs. The bank is well into the supporting sectors such as rural godowns and cold storages, market yards, agro-processing units, and logistics.

These not only help farmers transform subsistence agriculture into a viable business, but also reduce post-harvest losses and help ensure food security of the country. The agriculture credit arm of the bank is handled by a well-trained team of experts, who also counsel farmers to make credit a technically rewarding farm investment/expense. The 2,000-plus branches of the bank in villages and towns across the country are open to receive, assist and glad to be a part of the growth story of Indian farmers.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 23, 2012)
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