New Delhi: Rural households have access to banking and have savings but investment levels and pension and insurance coverage remain very low, a financial inclusion survey conducted by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) showed. At the same time, levels of indebtedness were high and nearly equalled annual incomes, according to the National Financial Inclusion Survey 2016-17.

The first-of-its-kind survey showed that among rural households, agri households earned more than non-agricultural ones. The annual income of rural households was 96,708. Of this, while average annual income of agricultural households was 107,172, that of non-agricultural households was 87,228.

The majority of the agricultural households were also indebted with the amount of loans nearly equalling annual incomes. More than one in two agricultural households surveyed were indebted. The average outstanding debt for these households was 1.04 lakh but most borrowed from financial institutions rather than money lenders.

One in two rural households saved in 2016-17. Nearly one in two rural households that saved did so in financial institutions with more agricultural households saving in such institutions compared to the non-agricultural households.

The survey covered 245 districts across 29 states and was done across Tier III to Tier VI cities. It covered 40,327 households and 187,000 people.

The survey covers all aspects of financial inclusion, including loans, savings, investments, pension, insurance and remittance.

Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, chairman, Nabard, said the survey shows there is scope for banks to provide loans to more people rather than lend to the same set of people. Insurance coverage remains poor. Only around one in four households have access to insurance coverage. Old age income security in the form of pensions is worse. Only one in five households have access to any type of pension.

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