HDFC Bank\u2019s asset quality struggles with its agri-loan portfolio may well enter its third year in 2019-20, with the country\u2019s largest private-sector lender already making provisions against future loan losses. In a conference call with analysts after HDFC Bank\u2019s March quarter results, CFO Sashidhar Jagdishan said the bank has been providing for agri-related delinquencies for the last few quarters. \u201cSo, there is a bit of a contingent trade provision that we have created for that, anticipating a bit of a spurt in the agri delinquencies in June 2019,\u201d he said. \u201cWe created a portion of that in December 2018; so we have carried that and we have added some more in March 2019.\u201d Also read:\u00a0Reliance Industries, HDFC twins help Sensex to reclaim 39,000; key factors behind 490-point rally Jagdishan pointed to uncertainties related to the results of the general election and likely farm-debt waivers thereafter. The bank is also taking into account private weather forecaster Skymet's expectation of a weak monsoon in FY20. Analysts say that stress in the agri portfolio will be a key monitorable in the quarters ahead. The consistently high share of agri loans in HDFC Bank\u2019s slippages has led some of them to expect a policy on write-offs for such loans. In a recent note, investment bank Jefferies wrote: \u201cHistorically, there has been no specific write-off policy for agriculture loans. But given the evolving nature of credit costs and slippages, we think the bank may introduce specific policies on agriculture loan write-offs.\u201d Slippages, or fresh bad loans, tend to shoot up in the April-June and October-December periods because of the nature of the crop cycle in India. HDFC Bank has seen this trend intensify since the June quarter of 2017-18 when the full impact of demonetisation became apparent. Of the total slippages in that quarter, 60% came from the agri portfolio. Thereafter, in Q3FY18, the bank\u2019s management admitted that heightened delinquencies in the agri segment may be a new normal. \u201cSlightly heightened level of agri-related NPLs (non-performing loans) is something that I think we\u2019ll just have to perhaps live with,\u201d a bank executive had told analysts in January 2018. The phenomenon may not be restricted to HDFC Bank either. Another private lender \u2013 RBL Bank \u2013 had to contend with an increase in agri slippages in the quarter ended March 2019. The value of the bank\u2019s gross non-performing assets (NPAs) in the agri book rose 17%, sequentially.