IFC, HBL sign pact to increase lending to farmers
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has signed an agreement with HBL to help the company increase lending to farmers, boosting agricultural productivity and spurring economic growth. IFC will advise HBL as it rolls out a plan to disburse almost 25,000 new loans to farmers, who often have trouble obtaining financing.
That prevents many from expanding their holdings, leaving parts of the country will small, relatively inefficient farms. The agreement with HBL is designed to address that issue and is IFC’s first agri-finance project in the Middle East and North Africa, says a press release issued here on Monday.
“In addition to ensuring food security, agriculture plays a vital role in supporting our economy and generating employment,” said Kashif Umar Thanvi, Head of Rural Banking at HBL. “We hope that our partnership with IFC will signal the significance of developing this sector and create more growth opportunities for local farmers.”
In Pakistan, the agriculture sector contributes about 21 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and employs over 45 percent of the total work force. “Supporting agribusiness is a priority for IFC as it can be a driving force for boosting economic growth and encouraging competitiveness in low-income countries,” said Luke Haggarty, head of IFC’s Advisory Services in the Middle East and North Africa. “Extending loans to small farmers will increase their income and help them boost productivity.” This initiative is part of IFC’s wider efforts in Pakistan to support private sector growth, improve access to infrastructure, boost trade, and extend financing for small-scale entrepreneurs.