After declaring economic relief measures for the poor and migrants on Thursday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced a Rs 1.65 lakh crore package for the agriculture sector and allied activities. This was the 3rd day of announcements detailing the Rs 20 lakh crore Aatmanirbhar Bharat package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 12. Sitharaman said, “11 measures have been announced of which 8 of them related to strengthening infrastructure, capacities and building better logistics while the rest 3 will pertain to governance and administrative reforms.” Outlining what the government has done over the last two months, she said during the lockdown period, an MSP purchase of Rs 74,300 crore has been done. A transfer of Rs 18,700 crore under PM KISAN has been made and a payment of Rs 6,400 crore has been issued to farmers over the last two months under the PM Fasal Bima Yojana. Sitharaman said as a result of the fall in demand for milk by 20-25 percent, a total 111 crore litres of milk were procured extra for Rs 4,100 crore.
A new scheme to provide interest subvention at 2 percent per annum to dairy cooperatives has been launched with an additional 2% interest subvention for prompt payment. The 8 key announcements for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Processing sector, declared by FM Nirmala Sitharaman are: 1) Rs 1 lakh crore Agri Infrastructure Fund for farm gate infrastructure. The lack of adequate cold chain and post-harvest management infrastructure in farms has been causing gaps in the value chain. Focus has been on short-term crop loans while investment in long-term agriculture infrastructure has not been enough. The Rs 1 lakh crore will be provided for funding agriculture infra-projects at farm gate and aggregation points, FPOs startups etc.
2) Rs 10,000 crore scheme for formalisation of Micro Food Enterprises (MFE) This fund will be for MFEs through a cluster-based approach (for example, mangoes in Uttar Pradesh, kesar in Jammu and Kashmir, bamboo shoots in the Northeast and chillies in Andhra Pradesh). According to the FM, Vocal for Local can build brands and their marketing them in global markets will be part of this package. This will benefit around 2 lakh MFEs. 3) Rs 20,000 crores for fishermen through the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojna (PMMSY) The government will launch the PMMSY for integrated, sustainable, inclusive development of marine and inland fisheries. Out of this Rs 11,000 crore will be for activities in Marine, Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture. Rs 9,000 crore will be for building infrastructure in fishing harbours, cold chains, markets etc. This will provide employment to over 55 lakh people and double exports to Rs 1 lakh crore.
4) Rs 13,343 crore outlay for National Animal Disease Control Programme The National Animal Disease Control Programme for Foot and Mouth Disease launched with Rs 13,343 crore outlay to ensure 100 percent vaccination of cat tle, buffalo, sheep, goat and pig population. This is for some 53 crore animals and till date, 1.5 crore cows and buffaloes have been tagged and vaccinated. 5) Rs 15,000 crore for Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development fund. An Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund will be set up to support private investment in dairy processing, value addition and cattle feed infrastructure. 6) Rs 4,000 crore for promotion of herbal cultivation The National Medicinal Plants Board has achieved a 2.25 lakh hectare programme till now and it will be expanded to 10 lakh hectare under Herbal Cultivation in the next two years. This will lead to Rs 5,000 crore income generation for farmers. 7) Rs 500 crore for Beekeeping Initiative. This will lead to increase in income for 2 lakh beekeepers and quality honey for consumers. The scheme will include infrastructure, capacity building, marketing and export support.
8) Rs 500 crore for “TOP” to TOTAL TOP stands for Tomatoes, Onions and Potatoes. Now it will be extended to all fruits and vegetables. The scheme will provide a 50 percent subsidy for transportation and 50 per cent subsidy for storage.
Apart from the announcements above, FM Sitharaman also announced the following measures for governance and administrative reforms for agriculture sector: Amendment to Essential Commodities Act to enable better price realisation for farmers. The government will amend the Essential Commodities Act so that food products including cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potatoes are deregulated. Stock limits will be imposed only under very exceptional circumstances such as national calamities, famine with surge in prices. Also, no stock limit shall apply to processors or value chain participants (subjected to their installed capacity) or to any exporter (subject to the export demand available). Agriculture marketing reforms to provide marketing choices to farmers. A Central law will be formulated to provide adequate choices to farmers to sell their produce at remunerative prices, barrierfree Inter-state trade and a framework for e-trading of agriculture produce. Agriculture Produce Pricing and Quality Assurance The government will finalise a facilitative legal framework to enable farmers to engage with processors, aggregators, large retailers in a fair and transparent manner.