NEW DELHI: In a move which may help farmers get better price of their produce at farm gates, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched Rs 1 lakh crore agriculture infrastructure fund to support building community farming assets across the country and said the efforts would enhance India’s ability to compete globally in the agri sector.
These farm infrastructures will enable farmers to get higher value of their produce as they would be able to store and sell at It at better prices as per market conditions, reduce wastage, and increase processing and value addition.
On this occasion, the PM also released Rs 17,000 crore to nearly 8.5 crore farmers under sixth instalment of the ongoing PM-Kisan scheme. The cash benefit was transferred directly to the farmers’ Aadhaar-verified bank accounts with the press of a button. With this transfer, the scheme has, so far, provided over Rs 90,000 crore in the hands of over 10 crore farmers since its launch in February last year.
Addressing the occasion through a video conference, Modi said the country 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.
He said this scheme would provide a good opportunity for start-ups in agriculture to avail the benefits and scale their operations, thereby creating an ecosystem that will benefit farmers and create new jobs in every corner of the country.
The Fund, announced as part of the Centre’s economic stimulus package in May, is 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.
Under this 10-year scheme, Rs one lakh crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans with interest subvention of 3% per annum and credit guarantee coverage for loans up to Rs 2 crore for a maximum period of seven years. There will be a moratorium for repayment from 6 months to 2 years.
The beneficiaries will include farmers, primary agriculture credit societies (PACS), marketing cooperative societies, farmer-producer organisations (FPOs), self-help groups, joint liability groups, multipurpose cooperative societies, agri-entrepreneurs, start-ups, and central/state agency or local body sponsored public-private partnership projects.
On the day its launch, the first sanction of over Rs 1000 crore was made available to more than 2,280 farmer societies. Modi interacted virtually with three PACS from Karnataka, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh who are among the initial beneficiaries of the scheme and asked them how they plan to utilise the loan.