AGRICULTURE e-CREDIT SCHEME INCREASES YIELD & PROFIT MARGIN- Dr. Umar Saif
The Agriculture e-Credit Scheme has improved liquidity in the agriculture sector, timely availability of crop inputs, an increase in yield and higher profit margins. This was stated by Dr. Umar Saif founding Vice Chancellor of Information Technology University (ITU) Punjab, Chairman Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) and Advisor to the CM while chairing a meeting to review the progress of Agri Credit Scheme here today.
The meeting was informed that the database of over 350,000 farmers have been registered in the Punjab Province under PITB’s developed centralized system for managing the database, helping raise efficiency and accountability of the scheme for the Punjab Agriculture Department’s initiated interest-free loan scheme for small farmers. The scheme provides loans to farmers possessing land less than 12.5 acres and has a flexible repayment option.
The meeting was further informed that the distribution of mobile phones has been started among the registered farmers and around 110,000 farmers would be given mobile phones with 10 agriculture-related applications to enhance their capacity and to disburse to loans to the farmers through mobile wallet as all processes involved in loan allocation have been automated, the meeting reviewed.
In the conventional method for loan processing, an applicant would have needed to visit the PLRA and bank more than 10 times to secure the loan, but with the help of this system, the number of visits was reduced to only three. More than 55 million households are directly or indirectly tied to this sector.
The salient features of 10 mobile applications include Onboarding/Tutorial to welcome the newly-registered farmers and verify their credentials, Weather Alerts to show the forecasts based on the latitude and longitude of the farmer’s location for 5 days, Crop Calendar to provide crop specific advisories, educate farmers about new technologies, methods and techniques related to various crops, Video on Demand to primarily serve the needs of farmers whose mobile literacy is low, Expert Opinion to talk to an expert, Crop Yield Calculator to allow farmers to calculate the approximate cost of seeding, fertilizer and pesticide usage and crop yield based on their land size and crop type, Mandi app to connect farmers with potential buyers and to use EasyPaisa Mobile Wallets for payments, Supply Chain Tracking to help farmers to browse, compare and buy various farm supplies such as fertilizers, seeds and pesticide from their mobile phones, Agriculture Subsidy to enable farmers to redeem subsidies given through various types of tokens (e.g. Potash Fertilizer Subsidy) through this app and Hyperspectral Imagery to capture satellite imagery of land and check the health of the crop, soil moisture, pest information and then using the above mentioned parameters to recommend remedial measures.