Reported by: banking|Updated: October 11, 2020
Bank of Baroda’s digital platform Baroda Kisan caters to numerous requirements of farmers and also provide crop related inputs:
Bank of Baroda post-amalgamation has 5459 branches in rural and semi-urban centers out of a total 9481 branches pan-India. The bank has been actively engaged in financing the agriculture sector, which has grown by 7.56% in 2019-20 with a total outstanding of Rs895 billion. The agriculture segment consists of SHGs, gold loan, and KCC portfolios and these have registered a yoy growth of 33%, 20.3%, and 8% respectively during the financial year.
Rohit Patel, Chief General Manager, Rural & Agri Banking, says the yoy growth in agri segment and gold loan portfolio is highest among peer banks. Further, the bank has shown YTD growth of around 1% in Q1, 2020-21, and outstanding is Rs 901 billion.
The total priority sector lending to ANBC of Bank of Baroda as of last FY remains 38% which is slightly less than the mandatory target of 40% and agriculture lending remains 16.42% to ANBC, which is again less than the mandatory 18%. Generally, the bank has been offering finance for the Kharif and rabi seasons, and accordingly, it has been allocating targets to its operating units, considering various factors like previous trends, potentiality, etc.
Says Patel: “This is the first year of the amalgamation, so more focus has been given on smoothening of activities, harmonization of products and processes due to which we are not able to achieve the mandatory targets. But both these figures have increased to 40% and 18% respectively. So, we have achieved major mandatory targets as of the first quarter of the current FY.”
STATE-WISE MAJOR CROPS
It is interesting to see the bank’s state-wise funding for major crops. The bank has been giving credit in Rajasthan for Kharif crops like bajra, jowar, maize, moong, moth, gwar, chawli (cow pea), urd, arhar, soyabean, til, rice, cotton, and groundnut and for rabi crops like wheat, gram, jau, mustard, taramera, jeera, dhaniya, isabgoal, methi, maize, and masoor. In Maharashtra, the bank financed farmers for Kharif crops like rice, jowar, bajra, finger millet, ragi, green gram (moong), black gram (udid), red gram (tur), maize, and rabi crops like wheat, rice, jowar, gram, groundnut, and onion. Says Patel: “We have been lending in Maharashtra to growers of fruits like orange, sweet lemon, guava, sapota, pomegranate, lemon (all Kharif), and orange, sweet lemon, grapes, banana, pomegranate, mango (Konkan) and mango (others).”
In Gujarat, the bank has been giving credit to growers of Kharif crops like paddy, jowar, ragi, groundnut, bajra, tur, moong, math, udid, sesamum, maize, castor, cotton, banana and rabi crops like wheat, mustard, groundnut, bajra, gram, cumin, onion, garlic, isabgul, fennel, and potato.
EMERGENCY CREDIT: COVID
Patel says post the outbreak of covid, the bank has adopted a product-specific strategy for the first quarter of the current financial year. To take care of the financial requirements of the targeted segment of customers of the agriculture vertical, it has proactively launched a number of schemes to take care of their immediate financial needs. “We have sanctioned Rs15.53 billion and disbursed Rs11 billion under these schemes,” says Patel
These multiple schemes include ‘Additional Assurance to SHGs – Covid19’ to provide immediate financial assistance to the women SHGs to meet the emergent needs of members for their domestic and agriculture purposes, Baroda Emergency Credit Line for Farmer Producer Organization (FPO / FPC)Rs, Baroda Special Scheme for existing agriculture investment credit borrowers and BKCC borrowers impacted by covid.
SHORT TERM, LONG TERM
The yoy growth in short term agriculture lending (STAL) of the bank in the last financial year was 4.26% and YTD growth in the first quarter of the current financial year is 1.85%. Patel offers a bifurcation: “Yoy growth is highest for NBFCs (154.35%), followed by SHGs (32.53%), agriculture gold loans (20.29%), investment credit (8.87%) and food & agro (2.42%), but tractor segment has recorded degrowth of 4.82%. Around 69% portfolio is classified as STAL and 31% as LTAL. While only SHGs have been recorded double-digit (11.26%) growth in the first quarter of the current financial year, all other sub-segments have recorded growth below 3%, with investment credit recording negative growth of 3.09%.”
BARODA KISAN PLATFORM
Bank of Baroda has been using its BC network for reaching out to the rural people. Patel mentions the agriculture digital platform ‘Baroda Kisan’ the bank has developed to cater to all the requirements of farmers. A first of its kind among the PSBs, the platform provides the farmers with various crop related inputs. It aims to provide a complete solution to the farmers in the direction of ‘Farm to Fork’ and is a one-stop solution for all the requirements of the farmers like important notifications, weather forecasts, input suppliers, renting of farm equipment, advisory services etc. The platform is available through a mobile banking app as well.
The bank’s branches are always in touch with the farming community in their respective areas of operations but for connecting with farmers exclusively, the bank organizes a special fortnight-long event called ‘Baroda Kisan Pakhwada’ every year in October. Says Patel about the event: “We believe that dissemination of knowledge is the best support that can be given to farmers. By giving it a shape, we started this unique initiative to reach out to the farmers and to acknowledge their contribution to society and the economy of the country. The Pakhwada platform is used for educating farmers on the latest developments in the field of agriculture. Last year we have connected with more than 600,000 farmers across the country with the said initiative. This initiative has been identified by Limca Book of Records as the largest farmers outreach program.”
CROSS SELLING TO FARMERS
Patel says there are various channels like branches, BCs, digital mode, etc through which cross-selling of various products to farmers has been undertaken. A separate MIS is maintained about the various products sold to farmers too.
TECH TO MONITOR NPA
Just 12.97% of the total NPA of Bank of Baroda pertains to its agriculture portfolio. In fact, the NPA level under the agriculture segment has come down as of March 2020. Rohit Patel says the bank has a very robust mechanism to monitor its agriculture accounts. At each level (branch, regional office, zonal office, corporate office), it has developed a monitoring mechanism, which helps it in arresting the NPA. Further, in agriculture, various factors are disturbing recoveries like debt waiver/debt relief, vagaries of monsoon, natural calamities, etc.
The bank has separate software-based monitoring tools for various categories of accounts. “We have strengthened our NPA management with daily dashboards like days past due (DPD) Report, NPA movement chart, and mock runs for forecasting degradations to ensure the reduction in slippages and improvement in collections. We are also in the process of developing a mobile application which would enable the collection agents on the field to collect the amount based on data fed in the system and also update recovery details,” elaborates Patel.
TARGETS, PLANS FOR GROWTH
The bank has adopted a product-specific strategy for increasing the portfolio under agriculture during the current financial year. Says Patel: “We have set a growth target of 12% for the agriculture segment in the current financial year, which is in line with the achievements of mandatory targets. Further, the target has been allocated to various operating units based on the potentiality, past performance, recovery percentage, NPA percentage, etc.”
Because of the covid pandemic, there was hesitation on the part of customers visiting branches and this obviously impacted the offtake of advances. However, Patel says with the concerted efforts of the bank’s operating units, there has been a YTD growth of 1% and the bank is very positive that this year it will definitely achieve the targets.
The government has made announcements with regard to promoting agriculture infrastructure and animal husbandry schemes and Bank of Baroda is in the process to enter an MoU with NABARD/DAC & FW for implementation of the schemes. “Using these schemes, we will definitely canvass good business for our bank. This year we are also proposing some new schemes under agriculture and we will be aggressively marketing these and hope to get considerable business,” says Patel.
Bank of Baroda has more than 3500 agriculture officers, who are functioning at different operational levels and contributing to enhancing the agriculture business. In addition, the bank has 18,000 BCs across India, who are contributing significantly towards increasing the agriculture business as well as priority sector advances.