NEW DELHI, WNS: Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Rural Development & Panchayati Raj Shri Narendra Singh Tomar today held detailed discussions with Chief Ministers and State Agriculture Ministers on recent agriculture market reforms and the new Central Sector Scheme of financing facility under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund of Rs. 1 Lakh Crore. The event was conducted through Video Conference and Chief Ministers of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Agriculture Ministers of Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Union Ministers of State for Agriculture Shri Purshottam Rupal and Shri Kailash Chaudhry participated in the discussion.
During the discussions, Shri Tomar emphasized that it has to be ensured that full benefit of the Rs. 1 lakh crore Agri Infrastructure Fund reaches the small and medium farmers who comprise more than 85% of the total farmers in the country. He said that the Prime Minister has allocated such a large fund for the farmers, which is a historical step. The Union Agriculture Minister said that the new ordinances brought in by the government are totally farmer-welfare oriented and there is no need to get misled on the issue of Minimum Support Price. Procurement from farmers on the basis of MSP will continue as before. The Chief Ministers and State Agriculture Ministers gave full assurance that no stone will be left unturned in ensuring utilization of the Rs 1 lakh crore fund, and new infrastructure will be created in all the villages.
The Union Minister shared the aspirational vision for agriculture under “Atmanirbhar Bharat”, highlighting the focus on transforming farmers into entrepreneurs and doubling farmers’ incomes. He noted the various reforms and schemes launched by the Government to strengthen the vision for the agriculture sector, including the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, the Scheme for Facilitation and Promotion of 10,000 FPOs, three recent Ordinances, and benefits released under PM-KISAN and KCC for the farmers.
Shri Tomar said that farmers are going to benefit greatly from the Ordinances of the Central Government. Contract farming and cluster farming will increase the income of farmers. For formation of 10,000 FPOs under the scheme, a provision of 6865 crore has been made under which 85 percent small farmers will be benefited. These FPOs will have a big role in terms of increasing the production and productivity of small farmers. Collective facilities like irrigation, fertilizer and seeds etc will reduce the cost of cultivation. Discussions will be held with States in the next round of meetings.
The Union Minister and Chief Ministers/Ministers discussed the benefits of the scheme and how it will help states can drive growth in investment, create new jobs in the agriculture and allied sectors, and improve farmers’ incomse. There was a detailed deliberation on the opportunity across states to invest in post-harvest management solutions and community farming assets like modern silos, cold chains, integrated pack-houses, and IoT/ precision agriculture. The group also exchanged views on how different groups, including FPOs, PACS, and start-ups, can avail the benefits under the scheme, thereby creating an ecosystem that reaches farmers in every corner of the country. The Union Minister emphasized how states should explore convergence with multiple central and state schemes to improve the economics of the investments under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund.
Finally, the Union Minister discussed the implementation of the scheme with the Chief Ministers/Ministers, highlighting the importance of comprehensively identifying projects that can address current infrastructure gaps, and assuring them full cooperation of the Centre for fast-track implementation. The Chief Ministers assured expeditious implementation of the scheme in the states to enable farmers to realize benefits.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan disclosed that a state level Monitoring Committee has been constituted to ensure full utilization of the allotted fund. The State Government is also taking up formation of new Farmer Producer Organizations on mission mode. At least two proposals will be sent from each block. One District-One Product scheme is also being implemented, which will give a boost to products unique to these districts. Start-ups are being promoted and mandis are being modernized in the state. Haryana Chief Minister Shri Manohar Lal Khattar said that the state has formulated projects for the fund allocated to the state under Agri Infrastructure Fund. He said that there are 500 FPOs in the state, and 500 more will be formed. 17000 Kisan Mitr will help to create awareness among 17 lakh farmers about the provisions in the ordinances. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat said that infrastructure will be created in accordance with local requirements, so that farmers get facilities at their doorsteps.
Mr. Vivek Agrawal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers welfare made a presentation of the plan, and suggested to create a Project Management Unit in the States. The Agriculture Infrastructure Fund 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. 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 annum and credit guarantee coverage under CGTMSE for loans up to Rs. 2 Crore. The beneficiaries will include farmers, FPOs, PACS, Marketing Cooperative Societies, SHGs, Joint Liability Groups (JLG), Multipurpose Cooperative Societies, Agri-entrepreneurs, Start-ups, and Central/State agency or Local Body sponsored Public-Private Partnership Projects.
The Agriculture Infrastructure Fund is one of the latest steps in a series of reforms undertaken by the Government of India in the agriculture sector. 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. The guidelines of the scheme have been issued. A portal has also been launched.
Agriculture Ministers of Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Chairman of NABARD, and Union Ministers of State for Agriculture Shri Kailash Choudhary and Shri Parshottam Rupala also expressed their views.