KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in order to promote agriculture finance and food security, has announced measures to boost financing in the agriculture sector, a statement said on Friday.
The measures were announced at the first meeting of the Task Force on Electronic Warehouse Receipt Financing (EWRF) held under the chairmanship of SBP Governor Dr Reza Baqir, whereas Punjab government Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal also attended the meeting on special invitation.
During the meeting, Baqir announced measures to attract investment in the construction of new warehouses and silos through SBP’s Financing Facility for Storage of Agricultural Produce (FFSAP) in order to boost EWRF.
The measures included increase in tenure of FFSAP loans from current 7 years to 10 years, increase in the grace period from 1 year to up to 2 years and revision in repayment terms from monthly to quarterly and six monthly to align the facility with the seasonality in agriculture sector.
The financing under FFSAP is available at 6 per cent per annum to end users on a long-term basis for construction, expansion and balancing, modernisation and replacement (BMR) of steel, metal and concrete silos, warehouses and cold storage facilities for storing agricultural produce.
The EWRF task force is a headed by the Governor SBP and comprises senior officials from federal and provincial governments, SBP, chief executive officers of banks and chairmen and directors of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Pakistan Mercantile Exchange (PMEX), Pakistan Banks’ Association (PBA), Pakistan Agricultural Storage & Services Corporation (Passco) and a collateral management company.
The discussions of the task force focused on ways to enhance and modernise the storage capacity in the country, develop a transparent price discovery mechanism for farmers, enhance applicability of EWRF to other agricultural commodities including wheat, develop specialised insurance products, and conduct training and capacity building of banks and the farming community.
Baqir termed the EWRF endeavours to be an essential component of formal credit to farmers who do not have acceptable collateral to offer to banks, while appreciating the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders who transformed the idea of EWRF into a workable solution but insisted on maintaining a steady momentum to achieve its desired objectives.
Punjab Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal said that the EWRF is a scheme for emancipation of farmers from the clutches of middlemen and offered Punjab government complete support in implementation of the action plan adopted by the task force.
Previously, the SBP had rolled-out the action plan for EWRF at the launch event and roadshow held in Chunian, district Kasur on February 22, 2022 where 25 banks signed their service usage agreements with collateral management company to commence EWRF operations.