New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched a new Central Sector Scheme of financing facility under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund of Rs. 1 Lakh Crore. The scheme will support farmers, PACS, FPOs, Agri-entrepreneurs, etc. in building community farming assets and post-harvest agriculture infrastructure.These assets will enable farmers to get greater value for their produce as they will be able to store and sell at higher prices, reduce wastage, and increase processing and value addition.
Today, only30 days after Cabinetformally approved the scheme, the first sanction of over Rs. 1000 Crore was made to over 2,280 farmer societies. The event was conducted through video conference and was attended by lakhs of farmers, FPOs, cooperatives, PACS, and citizens joining from across the country.
At the same event, the Prime Minister also released the 6thinstallment under the PM-KISAN scheme of Rs. 17,000 Crore to nearly 8.5 Crore farmers. The cash benefit was transferred directly to their Aadhaar verified bank accounts with the press of a button. With this transfer, the scheme has provided over 90,000 Crore in the hands of more than 10 Crore farmers since its launch on 01 December 2018.
Interaction with Primary Agriculture Credit Societies
Prime Minister interacted virtually with 3 Primary Agriculture Credit Societiesfrom Karnataka, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradeshwho are among the initial beneficiaries of the scheme. Prime Ministerhad an engaging discussion with the representatives of these societies to understandtheir current operations and how they plan to utilise the loan. The societies informed the Prime Minister about their plans to buildgodowns, setup grading and sorting units which will help member farmerssecure a higher price for their produce.
Address to the nation
Following his interaction with the Primary Agriculture Credit Societies, in his address to the nation, the Prime Minister expressed confidence in how farmers and the agriculture sector will benefit from the scheme. He said the scheme shall provide a financial boost to the farmers and agriculture sector and increase India’s ability to compete on the global stage.
Prime Ministerreiterated that India has a huge opportunity to invest in post-harvest management solutions like warehousing, cold chain, and food processing, and build a global presence in areas such as organic and fortified foods.Healso mentioned that this scheme provides a good opportunity for start-ups in agriculture to avail the benefits and scale their operations, thereby creatingan ecosystem that reaches farmers in every corner of the country.
Prime Minister expressed his satisfaction with the pace of implementation of the PM-KISAN scheme.He also noted that the scale of the program is so large that the funds released today have reached more people than the entire population of several countries taken together. He also congratulated states for playing an important role in the implementation and assisting farmers through the entire process from registration all the way to disbursals.
The Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, was also present on the occasion.
Agriculture Infrastructure Fund
The Agriculture Infrastructure Fundis a medium – long term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and credit guarantee. The duration of the scheme shall be from FY2020 to FY2029 (10 years).Under the scheme, Rs. 1 Lakh Crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans with interest subvention of 3% per annumand credit guarantee coverage under CGTMSE scheme for loans up to Rs. 2 Crore. The beneficiaries will include farmers, PACS, Marketing Cooperative Societies, FPOs, SHGs, Joint Liability Groups (JLG), Multipurpose Cooperative Societies, Agri-entrepreneurs, Startups, and Central/State agency or Local Body sponsored Public-Private Partnership Projects.
The PM-KISAN scheme was launched in December 2018 to provide income support by way of a cash benefit to all landholding farmers (subject to certain exclusion criteria) to enable them to fulfill their agricultural requirements and support their families. Under the scheme, the financial benefit of Rs.6000/- per year is provided to eligible beneficiary farmers in three equal installments.
A new dawn for the agriculture sector
These steps are the latest in a series of reforms taken by the Governmentof India under the guidance of the Prime Minister. These measures will collectively herald a new dawn for the agriculture sector in India andshows the government’s commitment to championing the cause of ensuring the welfare and sustainability of livelihoods for the farmers of India.