Finance Minister unveils Rs 1 lakh crore Agri-Infrastructure Fund for marginalised farmers

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The third tranche of the Rs.20 lakh crores economic stimuls package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi  focusses on agriculture, dairy, animal husbandry and allied activities.

 

A Rs 1 lakh crore Agri-Infrastructure Fund for farm- gate infrastructure for small and medium farmers is the key feature of the third tranche of the Rs.20 lakh economic package Prime Ministr Narendra Modi announced.

The third tranche focussing on agriculture, dairy, animal husbandry and allied activities was unveiled by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday (May 15).

“Financing facility of Rs 1 lakh crore will be provided for funding Agriculture Infrastructure Projects at farm-gate and aggregation points which will include primary agricultural co-operative societies, farmer producer organizations, agricultural entrepreneurs and start-ups. The fund will be created immediately,” she was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying.

The lack of adequate cold chain and post-harvest management in the vicinity of farm-gate is causing gaps in value chains. The government’s focus has been on short-term crop loans while investment in long-term agriculture infrastructure has often not been enough, the minister said.

Sitharaman announced 11 measures -- 8 related to strengthening infrastructure, capacities and building better logistics in the country and three pertaining to governance and administrative reforms.

She said that the government will also amend Essential Commodities Act to enable better price realisation for farmers. Agriculture food stuffs including cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potato will be deregulated.

The finance minister said that the government will set up a Rs 10,000 crore microfund to help branding and promotion of health foods produced across India.

The government extended Operation Greens from Tomatoes, Onion and Potatoes (TOP) to all  fruits and vegetables. Operation Greens was a project aimed to stabilise the supply of tomato, onion and potato crops (TOP crops) in India, as well as to ensure their availability around the country, year-round without price volatility.

To promote herbal cultivation in India, the government has committed Rs 4,000 crore. The move is aimed at increasing herbal cultivation to 10 lakh hectare in 2 years. A corridor of medicinal plants will also come up across banks of rivers.

The finance minister over the last three days has announced a slew of measures under the economic package of Rs 20 lakh crore that she said would infuse vigour in the economy and benefit various agricultural, economic and industrial sectors  (with inputs from agencies)

Image Credit: News 24

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