The venture capital assistance scheme of the union ministry of agriculture, whose agency Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) gives interest-free loans to small farmers worth Rs 50 lakh or 26 percent of the investment cost, has received tepid response in the state.
Out of 1,000 industries set up in the entire country with assistance from SFAC, only 12 units have come up so far in Punjab which is known for being an agrarian state.
Maharashtra leads the country with 220 industrial units and 124 units are set up in Uttar Pradesh. In Punjab, the 12 units which have been established include banana ripening, cold storage and processing units of fruits and vegetables in districts like Hoshiarpur, Amritsar, Kapurthala, Chandigarh, Faridkot, Ludhiana and Fatehgarh Sahib.
With Punjab farmers failing to respond positively to the scheme, SFAC officials have asked district officials to promote the scheme among farmers.
A meeting in this regard was held by SFAC's nodal officer AK Dubey with deputy commissioner KK Yadav, agriculture department officials, bank officials and farmers on September 2.
The scheme was started by the central government under the 12th plan to help farmers establish agro-based industries.
An official of the agriculture department said small farmers usually arranged loans from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) which provided them 75 percent funds for agro-based industries but they failed to arrange the remaining share of the project's cost. He said farmers could take this share from SFAC to establish their industrial unit on their own land or on lease land.
Dubey added a large number of small farmers in the country needed technological and business intervention to improve productivity, production and market access. He said there was acute lack of awareness among farmers in Punjab about the scheme which had received a good response from small farmers of other states.
He said the scheme envisaged a single-window approach with banks financing the projects to extend venture capital with term loan and working capital to agribusiness applicants. Not only loan, the SFAC will also give free services for making project report of the industry of farmers' choice, he added. He said anyone wanting to establish a project in agriculture or allied sectors like horticulture, floriculture, medicinal and aromatic plants, minor forest produce (MFP), apiculture and fisheries could approach SFAC.