Banks Lure Farmers Selling Land for Sezs

by : Propertiesmls

There's a new breed of high-networth individuals (HNIs) in India Inc - farmers selling land for SEZ-notified projects. In an effort to woo such HNI customers, private banks like HDFC Bank and ICICI are reportedly keeping a close watch on their transactions on a regular basis. The moment a significant land deal is struck, the banks' investment advisors rush to the new HNIs to sell a portfolio of wealth management services.

For instance, in Reliance's SEZ project in Jhajjar, Haryana, the banks have recruited locals as their agents whose job is to keep the bank authorities apprised of 1 acre-plus land transactions and convince them to invest a part of the money received in fixed deposits (FD), mutual fund schemes, life insurance and annuity products.

Says Kanwar Vivek, head (retail liabilities group), ICICI Bank, 'There are many farmers who have become rich by selling land to corporates. They, however, lack wealth management skills. We are treating this category as HNIs, at the same time flagging them as high-risk deposits as they tend to put only 30% of their money with us for a longer period.

On this front, a lot of awareness-building exercise has been initiated by us.' According to sources, Reliance Industries has tied up with HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Punjab National Bank and State Bank of India for providing financial consultancy to farmers. This arrangement is turning out to be a win-win situation for all involved parties.

'For a farmer, the maximum monthly crop yield per acre of agriculture land is about Rs 13,000. Add to this transportation and labour costs. In Jhajjar, an acre of agricultural land is worth Rs 22 lakh which is capable of yielding interest of about Rs 15,000 per month in a 360-day FD,' said an official in Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation (HSIDC).

This has led to a major change in the investment patterns of some of the farmers, who till now only bought land as an investment vehicle. 'Earlier, land was the only investment option for farmers. A major part of the money is now being put in buying various financial policies,' the official added.

According to statistics compiled by the rehabilitation & resettlement (R&R) department of HSIDC, in the last three months, private banks have bagged more than Rs 20 crore worth of FDs from farmers in Badli, Nimana, Faizabad, Ladpur, Munimpur and Sondhi villages of the Jhajjar area alone.

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