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Central Bank of India identifies 350 branches in coastal areas for aqua financing

Central Bank of India will expand its agri-loan portfolio through aqua financing and has identified around 350 branches in coastal areas to cater to such loans in the rural areas.

“We are now moving onto the agri related industries like processing. In coastal areas, we have identified around 350 branches where we are bringing only aqua financing from the rural centres,” M V Rao, MD & CEO, Central Bank of India, said in earnings call with analysts post June 2021 quarter results of the bank.

Rao said the bank is segregating how to diversify the agri portfolio.

Central Bank will use its own financing for this kind of diversification on the agri and agri processing industries, horticulture industries and aqua based industry, he said.

On the mandated priority sector loans, the loans to the targeted sector were higher than the stipulated, the bank said.

Regarding total priority sector lending of 40 per cent, the bank was at 43.76 per cent, he said.

Agriculture sector was 19.74 per cent against a target of 18 per cent, while for lending to small and marginal farmers, the bank was at 10.70 per cent against a target of 8 per cent, Rao added.

The state-owned lender will also rebalance its credit book with 70 per cent of the overall lending to the RAM segment (retail, agri and MSME).

“Going forward, we will be rebalancing our credit book with 70/30 that is 70 per cent (of the loan book) will be RAM and 30 per cent will be corporate.

“So our RAM, which was 62.03 per cent in June 2020, now it has gone up to 65.41 per cent. Further reduction in the corporate (loan) happened because of the technical write-off done in the month of March,” he said.

The lender said it also entered into co-lending agreements last month with three NBFCs to expand lending in the housing and MSME sectors.

The bank also sees opportunity in lending to the trader community, which was recently brought under priority sector by the government.

In July, MSME minister Nitin Gadkari had announced to bring retail and wholesale traders under the priority sector lending.

“So with the ministry recently announcing to bring traders under priority sector, we feel that opportunity is there in the trading (segment),” Rao said.

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