Guide: What Does An Agricultural Field Officer Do?
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 22 September 2022
Published 6 December 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Farming and related activities provide a source of income for most of the country's population. Being the primary sector, it usually involves many people with a range of skill sets. Learning what an agricultural field does might be essential, especially if you are considering a job in this sector. In this article, we discuss the role of agricultural field officers and look at the criteria necessary to become one.
What Does An Agricultural Field Officer Do?
Knowing the answer to, "What does an agricultural field officer do?," can help you make an informed decision about entering this field. An agricultural field officer is usually in charge of promoting financial products like loans to farmers. Their duties often comprise travelling to remote villages and checking the prospects of the farmers applying for loans.
Agricultural field officers generally evaluate all important aspects and relevant details of the borrower to ensure their details make them eligible before authorising the loan. They may also be responsible for issuing the funds and ultimately supervising and following up on loan repayment. Here are some of their primary responsibilities:
Adhere to RBI's guidelines
Agricultural field officers are in charge of the rural sector and generally ensure that their branch follows the priority sector regulations. According to RBI's guidelines, each year commercial banks are to open at least 25% of their branches in rural areas where there may be an absence of such financial institutions. Public sector banks lend to priority sectors like housing, education, MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) for around 40% of their total lending, with 18% allotted for agriculture. Therefore, banks generally hire agriculture officers for rural and semi-urban bank branches to provide loans for agriculture and other related activities.
Promote rural financing
Agricultural field officers typically promote their banks in rural regions to expand the bank's agricultural portfolio and to maintain and implement the priority sector guidelines set by the RBI. They may essentially encourage landlords and farmers to use rural financing solutions. Nowadays, every bank generally offers credit cards, debit cards, loan facilities, fixed deposits and other services to farmers. An agricultural field officer is likely to be in charge of advertising products and spreading information about various new schemes as a representative of the bank.
Assess loan criteria
India's banking system often focuses on financing food crops like wheat, rice, soya and tries to make money from agriculture. Many challenges frequently affect the agriculture sector. Climate and weather risks, natural disasters, pest and disease outbreaks and other factors may all contribute to a highly unreliable result. Agricultural field officers often determine the criteria for loans and consider these aspects and things like the repayment process, before they approve loans.
The agricultural field officer usually sanction loans after the verification of all applicable paperwork. If a farmer applies for a personal loan or a crop loan, they generally review their recent financial records like bank statements to assess eligibility. They may also visit their homes or fields and check all relevant documents before approving the loan.
An agricultural field officer is in charge of issuing loans under the terms agreed upon by both the farmers and financial institutions. They may also allocate funds to other individuals working in the agricultural sector. As a field officer, you may find it necessary to have a working knowledge of different agricultural loans and relevant details like criteria for disbursement and rate of interest.
Review agricultural loans
Agricultural field officers may often reassess agriculture loans as many of them can turn into non-performing assets (NPAs). This is because of the risks involved in agriculture, which may cause the non-repayment of loan money. In these situations, the officer usually decides whether to renegotiate the loan with the borrower. They may also declare it a lost asset, based on the status of the farmer or individual who takes the loan from the bank or other financial institutions.
Report to relevant authorities
An agricultural field officer may often maintain regular contact with senior authorities in their bank. They may also report to government organisations, like National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) and the RBI to share recent developments. As agricultural loans fall under the priority sector, it may be critical to report on them regularly to the higher authorities to help them create new policies.
Collaborate and coordinate with banks
Nationalised banks usually finance regional rural banks. So, the agricultural field officer often coordinates with the personnel in charge of the banks in a specific area to ensure the appropriate and effective use of funds. Similarly, NABARD may hold frequent reviews to assess banks' success. An agriculture officer generally attends these meetings and explains the branch's position in implementing various programmes and agriculture loans.
Communicate and network with locals
As an agricultural field officer, you may find it essential to develop and keep up a friendly relationship with people living in rural areas. Agricultural field officers generally promote financial products and services to potential customers. This may often necessitate maintaining a strong relationship with them. Thus, they typically network with farmers and other prospective customers to generate leads.
Follow up on recovery
One of the key duties of agricultural field officers is ensuring and verifying that the farmers can repay the loan amount promptly. The field officer generally makes sure the borrowers recognise the debt. They may ensure the successful recovery of loans. Field officers may do this by inspecting revenue reports.
Coordinate with the local governments
An agricultural field officer generally coordinates with the local governments, such as village committees, also known as gram panchayat. This may allow them to follow the ongoing activities in the rural areas such as the construction of dams and dairy farming. This may also help them be aware of the various things that villagers might require, such as modern roads and farm vehicles like tractors. Knowing about the basic requirements may allow them to help the local people.
Requirements Of An Agricultural Field Officer
Here are some essential requirements to become an agricultural field officer:
Candidates may require a 4-year graduate degree with an aggregate of 50% in agriculture or related field to be eligible for the post of agriculture field officer. You can choose one of these specialisations during graduation to apply for IBPS SO (Institute of Banking Personnel Selection Specialist Officers) examinations and become field officers:
Co-operation & banking
Agriculture business management
If you have dual specialities, one speciality can be in the fields mentioned above. Major specialisation may be in the stream prescribed in case of major/minor specialisations. Candidates with over two specialities on their postgraduate degree may be ineligible to apply.
The selection process of an agricultural field officer comprises a three-tier exam, including a preliminary exam, the main exam and an interview. Preliminary exams comprise three subjects—English (25 marks), quantitative aptitude (50 marks) and reasoning (50 marks). The main exam is on professional knowledge and is for 60 marks and the final interview is for 100 marks. You may take choose to take the exam in either English or Hindi.
Skills Of An Agricultural Field Officer
Here are some skills you might require as an agricultural field officer:
A good agricultural field officer can communicate effectively with the local inhabitants. It may be necessary to be clear about the solutions they may offer. When promoting the products and services, it might be useful to speak in regional languages so buyers can recognise and purchase them.
Attention to detail
Paying close attention to the slightest of details is a skill that is often necessary. Loans, credit cards and other financial products usually require a lot of documentation. Agricultural field officers may check over every detail and properly maintain all the clients' paperwork to ensure that no errors or loss of information occur.
Investigative and persuasive skills
Many people involved in the agricultural sector can apply for credit cards and loans. These people may often find themselves unable to repay the amount lent to them. Before issuing a loan, the field officer may conduct a complete background check on each prospective borrower. They may also convince farmers to use the financial products like credit cards, ATM cards. Thus, having the skills in persuasion might often become necessary.
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