Prime Minister Narendra Modi, through a video conferencing on Sunday, launched a financing facility of Rs 1 lakh crore under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund for agri-entrepreneurs, startups, agri-tech players and farmer groups for nurturing farm assets and post-harvest management. The fund has been launched as part of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' (self-reliant India) to make farmers self-reliant.
These assets will enable farmers to get greater value for their produce, as they will be able to store and sell at higher prices, reduce wastage, and increase processing and value addition, the government said.
"Today, our farmers have a choice. If he wants to deal with his produce in his field, he can. Or he can directly connect with the warehouse or whoever pays the higher price," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, adding "The agriculture sector will benefit a great deal from this modern infrastructure."
A loan amount of Rs 1 lakh crore will be made available to the farmers over a period of four years. While Rs 10,000 crore will be made available between 2020 to 2021. Rs 30,000 crore will be provided in each of the remaining three years. Farmers will also receive a subsidy ot three percent on interest, on loan amounting to 2 crore or less up to seven years.
The Prime Minister also released the sixth installment of Rs 17,100 crore to the bank accounts of more than 8.55 crore farmer beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme. Under the PM-KISAN scheme, launched in 2018 and funded by the central government, each farmer receives direct support of up to Rs 6,000 per year as minimum income support.
The funds are directly transferred into the Aadhaar authenticated beneficiaries' bank account to prevent leakage and increase convenience for farmers.
The government said it has already provided a direct cash benefit of over Rs 75,000 crore to more than 9.9 crore farmers.