According to press release issued by SBP, the Conference aims to discuss innovative strategies and solutions to increase outreach of agriculture credit to small-scale farmers, and also highlight opportunities for corporate farming and agriculture-food enterprise.
While addressing the audience, the Chief Guest Muhammed Ishaq Dar said the government is taking measures to increase agriculture production and infrastructure, ensure food security, and promote pro-poor agricultural growth.
“These measures will help to improve production yields, introduce modern farm-mechanization, increase better market access, and integrate farming with diverse markets through value chains to ensure that the benefits are passed down to farmers”, he added.
Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, who co-chaired the inaugural session stated that focus on sustainable agriculture is imperative to meet the increasing food demand of a growing population worldwide.
Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, in his keynote address shared SBP’s policy framework for enhancing the flow of financial services to rural agriculture sector.
Wathra, while asserting the importance of agriculture for the country, mentioned that access to finance is critical to rural-agriculture developments. He said that changing times are giving birth to newer financial inclusion challenges which demand a divorce from conventional and traditional approaches and a marriage with newer, better and more innovative ways of doing business.
In his address, Patrick T. Evans, FAO Representative to Pakistan said that the “Agriculture financing in Pakistan is limited with low percentage of finance going to the sector in relation to the needs and to its contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Many arming households are excluded from adequate financing due to the bankers’ reliance on of-land titles for securing loans. Hence, it is vital to introduce agriculture value chain finance and other innovations into the banking sector and in building technical capacity to scale up its use and implement across the country”.
The inaugural session was followed by plenary, ‘breakout’ and ‘plug & play’ sessions where in moderators and panelists deliberated on a variety of topics including disaster management, farmers financial literacy, use of information and technology and alternate delivery channels for financial inclusion, promotion of Islamic based modes of financing and cluster development etc.