In Nirmala Sitharaman’s Covid-19 package, 10 interventions for farm sector
The third tranche of Rs 20 lakh crore economic relief package announced by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman was concentrated on funding big-ticket reforms in the agricultural sector to not just revive the economic growth but unleash its latent potential through opening up of production and marketing avenues. The move is likely to result in long-term gains for farmers, marketers and consumers.
Here is the list of all key measures announced by the finance ministry as part of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Special Package:
1. Government to amend Essential Commodities Act to enable better price realisation for farmers which will result in the deregulation of prices for foodstuffs including cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potato. The minister said the amendment would help in attracting investments and making agriculture sector competitive. Stock limits- a feature of the old act-- to be imposed under very exceptional circumstances like during national calamities like famine that see a surge in prices.
2. A Central law will be formulated to provide adequate choices to farmer to sell produce at an attractive price and for barrier-free interstate trade. It will also set up the framework for e-trading of agriculture produce. The move is aim to end fragmentation of markets available to farmers who are currently forced to sell only to licensed APMC marketers.
3. Rs 1 lakh crore Agri Infrastructure Fund for farm-gate infrastructure for farmers for projects at farm-gate & aggregation points-- primary agricultural cooperative societies, farmers producer organisations, agriculture entrepreneurs, startups, etc.
4. Rs 10,000 crore scheme for the formalisation of Micro Food Enterprises (MFE) under ‘Vocal for Local with Global outreach’ vision shown by the prime minister. This will help 2 lakh MFEs attain technical up-gradation, FSSAI food standards, build brands and marketing
5. Rs 20,000 crore for fishermen through Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) for integrated, sustainable, inclusive development of marine and inland fisheries and to fill critical gaps in the fisheries value chain. Out of this, Rs 11,000 crore will be allocated for activities in marine, inland fisheries and aquaculture and Rs. 9000 Cr for infrastructure including fishing harbours, cold chain, markets etc. It is expected to lead to additional fish production of 70 lakh tonnes over 5 years and employment to over 55 lakh persons apart from double exports to Rs 1,00,000 crore.
6. Rs. 13,343 crore for National Animal Disease Control Programme for foot and mouth disease (FMD) and brucellosis launched. It will help in 100% vaccination of cattle, buffalo, sheep, goat and pig population (total 53 crore animals)
7. Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund worth Rs 15,000 crore will be set up with the aim to support private investment in dairy processing, value addition and cattle feed infrastructure. Incentives to be given for establishing plants for export of niche dairy products.
8. Promotion of herbal cultivation with a fund of Rs 4,000 crore to cover 10,00,000 hectare land under herbal cultivation in the next two years. It is expected to lead to Rs. 5,000 crore income generation for farmers. The programme hopes to create a network of regional market places for medicinal plants. National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) will bring 800-hectare area by developing a corridor of medicinal plants along the banks of Ganga.
9. Rs 500 crore for beekeeping initiatives –- Infrastructure development related to integrated beekeeping development centres, collection, marketing and storage centres, post harvest & value addition facilities etc. This will lead to a likely increase in income for 2 lakh beekeepers and quality honey to consumers.
10. Rs 500 crore for Operation Green to prevent distress sale leading to a reduction in the price of perishable fruits and vegetables at the farm level. All fruits and vegetables will be covered under this initiative for the next 6 months. It includes 50 % subsidy on transportation from surplus to deficient markets and 50 % subsidy on storage, including cold storages. This is likely to result in better price realisation to farmers, reduced wastages and affordability of products for consumers.