FM entails measures to revive the agricultural economy ; Major announcements for farmers, micro food enterprises

Third tranche of Rs. 20 lakh crore Economic package focuses on agricultural sector

Story Highlights
  • Finance Minister announced setting up of Rs 1 lakh crore agriculture infra fund for farm-gate infrastructure
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this week announced a cumulative package of Rs 20 lakh crore (nearly 10 per cent of GDP)
  • Rs 10,000-crore scheme for the formalisation of micro food enterprises
  • Central law to be brought in to provide marketing choice to farmers

DELHI: On Friday while addressing the media in the third press conference, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman elaborated about the further sectoral distribution of the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package under the “Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan” by PM Modi.

After key announcements for the MSMEs on Wednesday & for migrant workers on Thursday, the finance minister today entailed the measures for the agriculture and allied sectors such as fisheries, dairy and animal husbandry which have been affected due to COVID-19 pandemic.

She listed 11 measures out of which eight are aimed towards building better capacities and allocation for ramping up storage and logistics. The remaining three are the reforms related to governance and administration.

The finance minister allocated Rs 1 lakh crore towards the aggregators, FPOs, agricultural startups for strengthening farm gate infrastructure.

A fund of Rs 10,000 crore has been allocated for the Micro Food Enterprises (MFE) through a cluster-based approach. The FM said that “vocal for local” can build brands and hence marketing them in the global markets will be included in this package. The branding, modernising and ramping up of the capacity will be a part of this scheme. She said that this will benefit around two lakh MFEs.

A National Animal Disease Programme with a total outlay of Rs 13,343 crore which will ensure 100% vaccination for cattles – buffalo, sheep and pigs against foot and mouth disease, has been announced by the minister.

She further added that a new scheme of Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) will be launched by the Centre for marine and inland fisheries. An amount of Rs 11,000 crore will be allocated for marine and inland fisheries while Rs 9,000 crore for the infrastructure activities. The minister said that this will provide employment to 55 lakh in the sector and is expected to contribute Rs 1 lakh crore to India’s exports.

Meanwhile, to provide incentives for establishing plants for the export of niche products, an Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund of Rs 15,000 crore has been allocated.

The FM Sitharaman announced that Rs 4,000 crore have been allocated for promotion of herbal cultivation by the Centre. According to her, it will help in generation of  income worth Rs 5,000 crore for local farmers engaged in this cultivation. 

The minister also added that the National Medicinal Plant Board will be undertaking 800 hectares of areas in the corridors of river Ganga for growing herbal and medicinal plants.

A share of Rs 500 crore for beekeeping initiatives in the country to increase income for nearly two lakh beekeepers. The scheme includes infrastructure, capacity building, marketing and export support.

Sitharaman further said that the government has already invested Rs 500 crore in an existing scheme of ‘TOP’. The scheme has extended for next six months and it will be expanded further. TOP stands for tomato, onion and potatoes. The minister said that it will now get extended to other vegetables also so as to tackle the supply chain problems, particularly perishable fruits and vegetables. This particular scheme will provide 50% subsidy for transportation and 50% subsidy for storage.

As part of the reforms, Sitharaman said the government would amend the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 to enable better price realisation for farmers by attracting investments and making the agriculture sector competitive.

She further added that a law would be formulated to provide adequate choices to farmers to sell their produce at an attractive price, ensure barrier-free interstate trade and a framework for e-trading of produce.

The minister also stated that a legal framework would be created to enable farmers to engage with processors, aggregators, large retailers and exporters in a fair and transparent manner. Risk mitigation for farmers, assured returns and quality standardisation would be integral to this framework.

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