ICICI Bank has announced the introduction of usage of satellite data-imagery from earth observation satellites—to assess credit worthiness of its customers belonging to the farm sector. The bank, the first in India and among a few globally to do so, will use the data to measure an array of parameters related to the land, irrigation and crop patterns and in combination with demographic and financial parameters to make faster lending decisions for farmers, it said. “Use of technology helps farmers with existing credit to enhance their eligibility, while new-to-credit farmers can now get better access to credit,” it added. Since land verification is done in a contactless manner, credit assessments take only a few days as against the industry practice of up to 15 days.The bank has been using satellite data for the past few months as a pilot basis in over 500 villages in Maharashtra, MP and Gujarat and will now scale it up to over 63,000 villages across the country in two to three months. Anup Bagchi, executive director, ICICI Bank, said, “Time has come to link Vigyan [technology] with kisan [farmers]. Earlier, one had to visit remote locations to manually assess a host of parameters on the land location, irrigation levels and crop quality patterns to forecast future revenues of the farmers. Now, imagery from earth observation satellite gives us ground-breaking ability to track many information across large areas in a contactless and highly reliable manner.” “This, combined with demographic and financial details, provides strong information on the land asset of the farmers. We believe that usage of this technology will enhance accessibility to credit as new-to-credit farmers will have easy access to formal credit, as well as farmers with existing credit lines will be able to securely expand their eligibility,” he said.The bank has partnered with agri–fintech companies specialising in harnessing space technology and weather information for commercial usage.
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