Unveiling the third tranche of measures aggregating Rs. 1.63 lakh crore, at a media briefing on Friday May 15, Finance Minister Sitharaman announced a mix of financial, legislative and reform measures aimed largely at increasing the pricing power of farmers-or share of profit in farm incomes-by proposing to dismantle historical domestic trade barriers, bring new law for free food and commodities markets, and better infrastructure.
The third tranche measures is a mix of new allocations and top-up to existing agriculturally critical schemes, some of them announced in Budget 2020-2021 in February. The measure did not contain any direct cash transfer programme for farmers, or money in hand.
It is also an attempt to push through critical legislative reforms that can free up India’s agricultural markets and improve farm incomes. Farming is the largest source of livelihoods and supports nearly half of the population but it has been hobbled by scores of obsolescent regulations. For the benefit of farmers Essential Commodities Act, 1955, will be amended to deregulate food items including cereals, potatoes, and onions.
The measure will help the rural economy, our hard working farmers, fishermen, the animal husbandry and dairy sectors.
Totalling Rs.1.63 lakh crore, the measure includes:
- Rs. 1, 00,000 crore-Agri-Infrastructure Fund for marginalised farmers
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced that the Centre will immediately create an Rs 1 lakh crore Agri-Infrastructure Fund for farm- gate infrastructure for small and medium farmers, most of whom are marginalised.
“Financing facility of Rs 1, 00,000 crore will be provided for funding Agriculture Infrastructure Projects at farm-gate and aggregation points which will include primary agricultural co-operative societies, farmer producer organizations, agricultural entrepreneurs and start-ups. The fund will be created immediately,” Sitharaman said
The lack of adequate cold chain and post-harvest management in the vicinity of farm-gate is causing gaps in value chains. The government’s focus has been on short-term crop loans while investment in long-term agriculture infrastructure has often not been enough, the minister indicated.
- Rs. 20,000 crore-For Fisheries
Finance Minister allocated Rs 20,000 crore to the welfare of fishermen under Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana, announcing the third tranche of the centre’s stimulus package to cushion the adverse economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. She said the amount will address critical gaps in the fisheries value chain and will help provide employment to 55 lakh people.
“Under the Prime Minister Matsya Sampada Yojana (announced in Budget), Rs 20,000 crore fund has been allocated so that fishermen get financial support for increasing their produce and improve infrastructure. This will lead to an increase of 70 lakh tons in production in the next five years. It will also double the amount of exports,” she said.
Out of the amount, Rs 11,000 crore will be used for the development of marine, inland fisheries and aquaculture, and Rs 9,000 will go into creating infrastructure like fishing harbours, cold chain and markets. This will double the exports to Rs 1, 00,000 crore, she said.
The focus of the scheme will be to back fishing activities in islands, Himalayan states, north-east and aspirational districts, a press information bureau tweet said.
- Rs. 10,000 crore-For Micro food enterprises
Scheme to help 200,000 micro food enterprises meet FSSAI standards, build brand and market.
Union Finance Minister announced ₹10,000 crore for micro food enterprises as part of PM Narendra Modi’s ‘vocal for local’ focus. “Aiming to implement PM’s vision of ‘vocal for local’ with global outreach, a scheme will be launched to help 2 lakh micro food enterprises” Sitharaman said.
The scheme will be launched by adopting cluster-based approach such as makhana in Bihar, kesar in Jammu and Kashmir, mango in Uttar Pradesh, bamboo shoots in Northeast, chilli in Andhra Pradesh, tapioca in Tamil Nadu. “This fund would help in reaching untapped export markets in view of improved health consciousness,” the FM said.
- Rs. 15,000 crore-for Animal Husbandry Development
Union Finance Minister allocated Rs 15,000 crore to animal husbandry infrastructure development.
Taking cognisance of the many areas across India which have high production of milk, Sitharaman also invited private investments in dairy processing, cattle feed infrastructure, and other value addition.
She said that incentives will be given for establishing plants for the export of milk products such as cream, cheese, processed milk powder and such. Sitharaman also invited private investments in dairy processing, cattle feed infrastructure, and other value addition.
- Rs. 13,343 crore- for National Animal Disease Control Programme
Union Finance Minister launched National Animal Disease Control Programme, with total outlay of Rs 13,343 crore for 100 per cent vaccination of cattle, buffalo, sheep, goat and pig population in India. This will cover around 53 crore animals, of which 1.5 crore cows and buffaloes have already been vaccinated.
- Rs. 4,000 crore- for Herbal Cultivation
Union Finance Minister announced an Rs 4,000 crore plan to promote herbal cultivation in India. Under this scheme medicinal plants will also be cultivated across the banks of river Ganga. This will be a Major Push for Herbal Cultivation, Corridors of Medicinal Plants to Be Established along Ganga’s Banks.
These herbal corridors which will span across 10 lakh hectares of land, will be established in the next two years. This scheme is expected to generate an income of Rs 5,000 crore for the farmers. In order to help the farmers sell their produce, a network of regional mandis will also be set up for medicinal plants.
- Rs. 500 crore- For Operation Green
Union Finance minister that Operation Green — a price fixation scheme that aims to ensure farmers are given the right price for their produce — will be expanded to cover all fruits and vegetables from just the tomatoes, onions and potatoes (TOP) as of now. This will be done with an additional allocation of ₹500 crore.
The scheme will have a 50% subsidy on transportation from surplus to deficient markets and 50% subsidy on storage, including cold storage.
The eligible organisation for availing financial assistance would include State Agriculture and other Marketing Federations, Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO), cooperatives, companies, Self-help groups, food processors, logistic operators, service providers, supply chain operators, retail and wholesale chains and central and state governments and their entities/organisations.
- Rs. 500 crore- for Bee Keeping Initiatives
Scheme to develop infrastructure related to beekeeping; will help 200,000 people.
The government will implement a Rs 500 crore scheme of infrastructure development for the country’s beekeepers, with special thrust on capacity building of women, Union finance minister said.
The government will implement the scheme for infrastructure development related to integrated beekeeping development centres, collection marketing and storage centres, post-harvest and value addition facilities among other things,
It will also include implementation of standards, developing a traceability system, development of quality nucleus stock and bee breeders.
“This will lead to an increase in income of 2 lakh bee-keepers,” Nirmala Sitharaman said in her press conference.