The implementation of a Tk 5,000-crore special refinance scheme for the country’s agricultural sector has reached 67 per cent in eight and a half months of its launch.

The package was launched on April 13 with a view to containing the COVID-induced economic impact on the country’s rural economy.

Initially, the implementation deadline was set at September 30, 2020. Later, the deadline was extended to December 31, 2020 and March 31, 2021 in two phases due mainly to banks’ failure to implement the scheme on time.

The latest Bangladesh Bank data showed that banks have so far disbursed Tk 3,350.68 crore to farmers through the banking channel.

Under the implementation of the package, 43 scheduled banks have so far disbursed loans to 1,43,747 farmers.

As of December 2020, the banks received 1,48,564 applications for loans from the scheme.

Of the applications, the central bank has approved 1,47,250 applications.

Under the scheme, formed with Bangladesh Bank’s own fund, agricultural sectors including seasonal flower and fruit cultivation, fisheries, poultry, dairy and livestock, excepting crop and grain sectors, are receiving loans at the rate of 4 per cent interest.

The central bank has been providing funds to the participating 43 banks at the rate of 1 per cent.

A central bank official said that the banks were slow in implementing the special refinance scheme meant for the agriculture sector as they had to process a large volume of applications from farmers.

Apart from the special refinance scheme, the banks will have to fulfil the regular agricultural loan disbursement target to the farmers for crop and grain sub-sectors.

For the fiscal year 2020-2021, the BB has set farm loan disbursement target at Tk 26,292 crore.

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