Financial education for farmers in Punjab villages

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Chandigarh, July 15 : To extend banking facilities to the masses, free of cost financial education to farmers and people belonging to the disadvantaged sections of society is being imparted to enable them take decisions about loans and other related banking schemes independently.

The Punjab National Bank is today running nine financial education and credit-counseling centers in different parts of Punjab. Several people are being made aware of investment and loan related possibilities available to them in banks.

The initiative is also aimed at protecting people from local moneylenders' vicious traps. t is hoped to benefit the uneducated and people from the deprived sections of the society about financial management to take advantage of organized lending avenues

Students in these classes are loan seekers and investors, while the teacher is a financial counselor.

"I am a farmer. Here we are getting information about loans. If they provide me easy loans, I can improve my business and can do farming in a better way by buying tractors etc," said Rakesh Duber, the farmer. "I have always felt fed up from moneylenders. For if I have to pay rupees 10 on Rs.100 extra (10 per cent interest rate). The bank lends money at four per cent and with this I can improve my business. I am also finding it difficult to educate two of my daughters. If government banks give me easy loans, I can live a better life," said Mansoor, one daily wager.

It is hoped that such a financial inclusion of people in the banking system will not only help farmers and labourers give a boost to their businesses, but will also help them to improve their living standard.

Bank authorities say that there is a social part of such awareness programmes too.

"Once they are engaged in such banking activity they would be stabilized and mentally unperturbed. They would be able to bring up their children properly. And later, if their children took up this banking habit, they would not be engaged in wrong activity and live happily," said Rohtash Kumar, Circle Head, Punjab National Bank

It has been noticed many people suffer silently being well aware that their children are not on right path. Awareness of what banks can offer to the needy can help save lots of people and motivate them to join mainstream

Among many beneficiaries is 53-year-old Bhupinder Singh, a farmer from village Khuda Lahora, near Chandigarh.

A successful dairy owner, Bhupinder has today acquired ample knowledge about some banking and financial schemes. He took a bank loan about three-years-ago, which has helped him break free from the clutches of the village moneylenders.

Bhupinder Singh, one farmer, said: "Initially. I took a loan of rupees 215,550 (5,000 dollars) and bought cattle. After clearing that loan I took an added loan of rupees 536,235 (12,500 dollars) and purchased land that brought me a good profit. At that time one-acre land was for rupees 965,064 (22,500 dollars) and today its value is rupees 2,895,079 (67,500 dollars). If money is spent in right way, it can return huge profits. But if it is spent in buying other than someone's occupational things, it won't be profitable." It has widely been noticed that the life in rural areas is terrible if one is caught in the web of private moneylenders,.

Financial education to villages is believed to give them a new lease of life and free them from the clutches of moneylenders.

The method is worth emulating by banks in all cities to educate its customers, who are generally found pleading before the bank clerks for basic enquiries about various schemes or personal accounts.

ANI

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