Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Friday said procurement of various crops from farmers at minimum support price (MSP) will continue, and stressed that agri marketing reforms have been done for the welfare of farmers.
He asked states to ensure that full benefit of the newly launched Rs 1 lakh crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund reaches small and marginal farmers.
The Union Minister held detailed discussions through video conference with chief ministers and agriculture ministers of states on recent agriculture market reforms and the new Central Sector Scheme of financing facility under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, an official statement said.
Chief ministers of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and agriculture ministers of Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat were present in the meeting.
Union Ministers of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala and Kailash Choudhary also participated in the discussion.
Tomar emphasised that it has to be ensured that full benefit of the infrastructure fund reaches the small and medium farmers who comprise more than 85 per cent of the total farmers in the country.
He said 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 MSP.
“Procurement from farmers on the basis of MSP will continue as before,” he said.
Food Corporation of India, the nodal agency for procurement and distribution of foodgrains, buys wheat and paddy from farmers at MSP and sells them at highly subsidised price through ration shops. NAFED procures pulses on behalf of the government.
Under the agri marketing reforms, farmers are now allowed to sell their produce outside mandis.
The chief ministers and agriculture ministers of states gave assurance that they will utilise the fund and new infrastructure would be created in villages.
Tomar highlighted various programmes launched by the Centre to strengthen agriculture sector and boost farmers income, such as the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, the Scheme for Facilitation and Promotion of 10,000 FPOs, three recent Ordinances related to agri marketing, and benefits released under PM-KISAN and Kisan Credit Card (KCC) for the farmers.
Tomar said farmers would benefit from the Ordinances of the Central government. Contract farming and cluster farming will increase farmers” income.
“The Union Minister and chief ministers/ministers discussed the benefits of the scheme and how it will help states drive growth in investment, create new jobs in the agriculture and allied sectors, and improve farmers” income,” the statement said.
Tomar discussed the implementation of the agri infra fund, highlighting the importance of comprehensively identifying projects that can address current infrastructure gaps.
Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan disclosed that a state level monitoring committee has been constituted to ensure full utilization of the allotted fund.
Chauhan said the state government is also taking up formation of new Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) on mission mode. Start-ups are being promoted and mandis are being modernized in the state.
Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar said the state has formulated projects for the funds allocated to the state under the infrastructure fund.
He said there are 500 FPOs in the state, and 500 more will be formed.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said infrastructure will be created in accordance with local requirements, so that farmers get facilities at their doorsteps.
The Agriculture Infrastructure Fund is a 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 cent per annum and credit guarantee coverage for loans up to Rs 2 crore. PTI