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ICICI Bank organises Kisan Sampark Programme in Punjab & Haryana
ICICI Bank Limited, India's largest private sector bank, organised a Kisan Sampark Programme in 170 villages of Punjab and Haryana as a part of its financial inclusion plan. The Kisan Sampark Programme helps in increasing financial literacy and creating awareness of all agri-products of ICICI Bank, encouraging farmers to develop a saving habit.

The Bank has reached out to an estimated population of 3,500 in small villages around centres such as Ahmedgarh, Nawanshahr, Ropar, Mansa, Nabha, , Sangrur, Zirakpur, Faridkot, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala, Muktsar, Nakodar, Tarn-Taran, Ambala, Dharuhera, Fatehabad, Gohana, Shahbad, Tarori Mandi, Jhajjar, Mahendragarh and Kaithal.

During this programme, ICICI Bank Branch Managers and Development Officers conduct financial literacy camps in the villages and everyone from the farmer community is invited. In this, they explain the benefits of banking through a formal financial institution rather than with the unorganised sector. They help them calculate the interest rate on their existing loans which are usually significantly higher than available with a bank.

They also help them understand the importance of maintaining a consistent repayment cycle, the effect it has on their credit worthiness and consequently, their loan eligibility. They highlight that when taking loans against assets such as jewellery, they should choose a formal banking channel who would keep their assets safe and secure. After the conclusion of the programme, the Bank officials spend the day going door-to-door and counselling the farmers on any financial concerns.

The Bank also showcases a list of tailor-made products and services including farmer finance, jewel loans, tractor loans, Rural Business Credit and Kisan Kalpviraksh, in addition to basic banking facilities such as the savings account.

The Bank provides Farmer Finance through Kisan Credit Card (KCC) and Agri-term Loan (ATL) for the cultivation and development of agricultural land. Through jewel loans, the Bank offers loan against gold ornaments for direct and allied agri customers, as well as to less-privileged sections. Under Rural Business Credit (RBC), the Bank meets working capital and term loan requirements of business entities in rural and semi-urban areas. The rural customers can get overdraft (OD) against fixed deposits (FD) under the Bank's Kisan Kalpviraksh scheme. The Bank also offers various basic savings accounts to the customers based on their profile and requirements.

Vishal Batra, Zonal Head ? Rural and Inclusive Banking Group, ICICI Bank said, ?We, at ICICI Bank, recognize the importance of inclusive growth for the farming community. It has always been our earnest endeavour to make a difference to the farmers and agri-communities residing in unbanked / under-banked rural areas by reaching out to them and offering them the benefits of safe and secure banking.?

Currently, ICICI Bank has 290 branches in Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana of which over 55% of branches are in semi urban and rural areas. It is noteworthy that the Bank has opened over 60 branches in previously unbanked areas to further deepen its rural reach.

The Bank, as a leader in the financial inclusion space, continues to undertake unique initiatives to reach out to customers in rural India. ICICI Bank was appointed by the Punjab Government in May 2012 to service customers under the Social Security Pension scheme. The Bank is managing pensions for over four lakhs customers from rural areas across Muktsar, Ludhiana, Faridkot, Patiala and Bhatinda.

During FY2014, the Bank started Social Security Pension payments in Chandigarh using online real time biometric authentication for the first time. Under this system, pensioners under various schemes of the Chandigarh Administration are able to withdraw their pension after real time online authentication of their fingerprint.

The entire process of funds transfer from the government to the customer account and of payment to the pensioner is carried out electronically. ICICI Bank has successfully done over 160,000 transactions since the launch of this scheme. 

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