THE PAKISTAN DEVELOPMENT REVIEW
Credit for Rural Poor in Pakistan
Farmers, large and small, and the non-farm population in rural areas all suffer from the liquidity constraint. Credit is needed to acquire command over the use of working capital, fixed capital, and consumption goods. The Green Revolution technologies have increased the credit requirement for modern inputs and farm investment. A new expanded role of rural credit institutions has emerged in the wake of the technology revol~tion in rural areas. Two distinct approaches have been used to provide the financial services to the rural poor. The most widely favoured approach in the past was the use of subsidised interest rates with a portion of credit reserved for the poor. The low interest policy was based on the premise that it would induce farmers, large and small, to use modern’ inputs on a larger scale. One of the adverse side-effect of this policy was the introduction of an element of financial unsustainability in the loan portfolios of the credit institutions. The recent view about the delivery of rural credit consists of using market interest rates and using a mixture of ‘bottom-up initiatives’ at the local level, using non-government groups and ‘top-down initiatives’ by the formal credit institutions in terms of the simplification of the procedures and decentralisation of the credit operation for credit supply to the rural poor. In this paper, an attempt is made to evaluate the efficacy of these two approaches in the case of Pakistan for delivering credit to the rural poor.