Top 10 Takeaways From Nirmala Sitharaman’s Announcements For Farmers

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Top 10 Takeaways From Nirmala Sitharaman's Announcements For Farmers

Nirmala Sitharaman unveils the third tranche of Centre’s Rs 20 lakh crore fiscal stimulus

New Delhi:
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced 11 measures aimed at boosting agriculture and allied activities affected by the coronavirus crisis. The measures were part of the Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week for the coronavirus-hit economy. The Finance Minister has already unveiled two tranches of measures – the first focused on MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) and the middle class, while the second dealt with migrant labourers and farmers.

Here are the 10 big takeaways from the Finance Minister’s briefing today:

  1. A fund worth Rs 1 lakh crore will be set up “immediately” to strengthen farm-gate infrastructure and aggregators like Farmers’ Producers Organisation, agricultural entrepreneurs and primary agriculture cooperative societies. The Finance Minister said investment in long-term agri infrastructure had been lacking and this fund would aid development of “financially viable post-harvest management and infrastructure”.

  2. The Finance Minister announced amendments to the Essential Commodities Act to attract investments, make the sector more competitive and enable farmers to get better prices for their products. Agricultural food items, like cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potatoes, will be deregulated, with stock limits to be imposed in “very exceptional circumstances” only.

  3. The government will also formulate a law to provide farmers with adequate choices to sell their products at attractive prices, as well as removing barriers to inter-state trade and encouraging e-trading of produce. The law will include a legal framework to help them engage with aggregators, processors, large retailers, exporters, etc. This will allow risk mitigation for farmers while providing assured returns and improved standards.

  4. A scheme worth Rs 10,000 crore for formalisation of Micro Food Enterprises (MFE) was announced. Unorganised MFEs need technical upgradation to attain food safety standards and build their brands, Ms Sitharaman said, adding that this will help two lakh units reach their goals. The scheme will follow a cluster-based approach, with expected outcomes to include improved health and safety standards and increased incomes.

  5. Rs 20,000 crores will be made available for fishermen through the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana. Rs 11,000 crore is for activities in inland and marine fisheries and aquaculture. Rs 9,000 crore is for development of harbours, markets and cold chain management. This will lead to additional fish production of around 70 lakh tonnes over the next five years, while also employing more than 55 lakh people, the government said.

  6. The National Animal Disease Control Programme has been launched with an outlay of Rs 13,343 crores for 100 per cent vaccination of cattle, buffalo, sheep, and goat and pig populations against foot and mouth disease (FMD) and brucellosis. There are around 53 crore domestic animals, the government said.

  7. Parallel to that, an Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund worth Rs 15,000 crore will be set up to support private investment in dairy processing and manufacture of cattle feed.

  8. Rs 4,000 crore has been set aside for herbal cultivation. The National Medicinal Plants Board has supported cultivation of medicinal plants in around 2.25 lakh hectares, with a total of 10,00,000 hectares to be covered by 2022; this will include 800 hectares along the banks of the Ganga. The scheme will lead to Rs 5,000 crore in income for farmers, the government said.

  9. Rs 500 crores have been set aside for beekeeping initiatives. The scheme will cater to infrastructure related to beekeeping development centres and the collection, storage and marketing of produce. This will lead to increased income for around two lakh beekeepers and improved quality of honey, the Finance Minister said.

  10. Described as a “major announcement”, the government said Rs 500 crores would be set aside to address vegetable and fruit supply chains disrupted by the coronavirus lockdown. Earlier, the Finance Minister said, this scheme was intended for tomatoes, onions and potatoes, but will now include all fruits and vegetables. Key features include 50 per cent subsidy on transport from surplus to deficient markets and an equal subsidy for storage facilities. This will be a six-month pilot project to be expanded on evaluation.

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