ISLAMABAD - Around Rs 332.7 billion agricultural credit has been disbursed during the first eight months of the current fiscal year by various banks and financial institutions against the target of Rs 600 billion set by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

The disbursement of Rs 332.7 billion from July-March (2015-16) showed an increase of 15.3 per cent as compared to Rs 288.7 billion disbursed during the corresponding period of last year, according to official data.

The outstanding portfolio of agricultural loans has increased by Rs 46.9 billion i.e. from Rs 307.6 billion to Rs 354.5 billion with 15.2 per cent growth at the end of February 2016 as compared to the corresponding period of last year.

Despite having various challenges, the overall performance of banks remained encouraging and witnessed 15.3 per cent growth in disbursements during the period under review.

As man as 15 domestic private banks collectively disbursed Rs 72.3 billion or 54.8 per cent of their target of Rs 131.8 billion. Nine microfinance banks disbursed Rs 30.5 billion of 76 per cent of their annual targets, while the five Islamic banks, as a group, disbursed Rs 4.9 billion against the target of Rs 7.9 billion during the period.

In the backdrop of the government priority of agriculture sector for current fiscal year, the SBP allocated the provisional indicative agricultural credit disbursement target of Rs 600 billion to 36 participating institutions, including 20 commercial banks, two specialized banks, five Islamic banks and nine microfinance banks, the data revealed.

The indicative agriculture target is 20 per cent higher than the last year's target of Rs 500 billion and 16.3 per cent higher than the actual disbursement of Rs 515.9 billion for FY 2014-15.

Out of the total target, Rs 305.7 billion have been allocated to five major banks, Rs 102 billion to Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited, Rs 131.8 billion to 15 domestic private banks, Rs 12.5 billion to Punjab Provincial Cooperative Bank, Rs 40.1 billion to nine microfinance banks and Rs 7.9 billion to five Islamic banks for the current fiscal year.