Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched a debt financing facility under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund with a budget of Rs 1 lakh crore. Under this, Farmer Producer Organisation Schemes, self-help groups and agri-entrepreneurs can take loans to build infrastructure for post-harvest management and community farming assets, like cold storage, collection centres and processing units. The scheme, already cleared by the cabinet, will be implemented from this month.
Rs 1,000 crore has already been sanctioned to over 2,280 farmer societies. The assets will help them get more value for their produce, as a proper post-harvest infrastructure will help them reduce wastage and store and sell crops at higher prices.
The government has also released the next instalment of Rs 2,000 each to 8.5 crore farmers under the PM-Kisan scheme. This was the sixth instalment of the scheme, which, launched in 2018, promised to provide direct cash benefit of Rs 6,000 per year to to more than 10 crore farmers. Rs 17,100 crore has been spent on the scheme this time, the government said.
Making the announcements at a programme to launch the scheme through video-conference, the Prime Minister said, “Farmers are now ready to be entrepreneurs, in line with the vision of doubling farmers’ income”.
The video event was attended by lakhs of farmers, cooperatives, and citizens across the country.
“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,” the Prime Minister said.
The scheme, he said, provides a good opportunity for agri start-ups to scale their operations, and will help create an ecosystem that reaches farmers in every corner of the country.
The push for the agri-sector came as part of the overall scheme to boost the economy after the huge setback induced by the lockdown over coronavirus. Citing the reforms, especially in MSMEs and the agri-sector, the Prime Minister has sought investment from abroad on various platforms, including last month’s last month’s India Ideas summit.