Kit Covid-19: Rs 1 lakh crore for farm infrastructure.
The third tranche of the Covid-19 Special Package, announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, based on farming and allied activities. She declared that she would construct a Rs 1 lakh crore fund to develop agricultural infrastructure.
The step is aimed at strengthening agriculture infrastructure, funding Rs 1 lakh crore facility will be given at farm-gate and aggregation points to finance agricultural infrastructure projects.
Sitharaman said, "Lakh of sufficient cold chain and facilities for post-harvest management in the vicinity of the farm gate creating gaps in value chains."
She said the fund would be instantly established. The finance minister said the largest proportion of India's population depends on farming. 85 per cent of all those who rely on agriculture are small and marginal farmers.
Flanked by MoS Finance Anurag Thakur, Sitharaman declared a decision by the government to expand Operation Greens from Tomatoes, Onion and Potatoes to all fruits and vegetables calling it Complete to pass.
She said supply chains were broken, and farmers could not sell their produce on the markets. Distress selling exists. She said that prices of perishable fruits and vegetables at farm level need to be prevented from declining.
Under the TOP to Complete scheme, the government will provide 50% transportation subsidy from surplus to deficient markets and 50% storage subsidy including cold storage — of these things. She said the move is expected to provide farmers with a better price for their produce, minimize waste of farm products and at the same time keep it affordable for regular consumers.
Sitharaman said the Modi government should amend the Critical Commodities Act to make it possible for farmers to achieve better price realisation. She said agriculture food stuffs including cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potato will be deregulated under the amended law.
No such stock limit shall apply to processors or participants in the value chain, subject to their installed capacity or to any exporter subject to the demand for exports, "Sitharaman said.
Explaining the reasoning behind this decision, the finance minister said that the Essential Commodities Act was enacted in 1955, when India faced food-grain shortage. She said that by attracting investment and making the agriculture sector competitive, there is a need to ensure better prices for farmers.