Nirmala Sitharaman Announces 1 Lakh Crore For Agriculture Infrastructure

Nirmala Sitharaman's Announcement: A fund of Rs 10,000 crore has been set aside for Micro Food Enterprises, with a cluster-based approach of promoting state-wise produce.

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

New Delhi:

The government today announced one lakh crore for strengthening the farm-gate infrastructure for farmers, in the third tranche of measures that are part of a mega stimulus to tackle the impact of the coronavirus crisis and weeks of lockdown. In her third press conference to share details of an economic package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also announced a cluster-based approach to promote the mantra of "vocal for local with global outreach".

"Financing facility of Rs 1 lakh crore will be provided for funding agriculture infrastructure projects and aggregators like Farmers Producer Organisation, agricultural entrepreneurs, primary agriculture cooperative societies etc," said the Finance Minister. This fund will be used for setting up cold chains and post-harvest management infrastructure.

A fund of Rs 10,000 crore has been set aside for Micro Food Enterprises, with a cluster-based approach of promoting state-wise produce - for instance, makhana from Bihar, Kesar in Jammu and Kashmir, mango in Uttar Pradesh, bamboo shoots in North-East, chilli in Andhra Pradesh, tapioca in Tamil Nadu and turmeric from Andhra Pradesh.

"Turmeric latte is a big thing these days and we produce a lot of turmeric," said the minister.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a cumulative package of Rs 20 lakh crore, nearly 10 per cent of India's GDP, to help various sections of the economy battered by coronavirus lockdown.

This included a Rs 1.7 lakh crore package comprising free foodgrain and cash to poor for three months announced in March, and Rs 5.6 lakh crore stimulus provided through various monetary policy measures by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The government has so far made two tranches of announcements with a cumulative package of Rs 9.1 lakh crore, comprising largely of credit lines to smaller firms, concessional credit to farmers and support to shadow banking and electricity distributors.

The measures are meant to shore up an economy that has taken a severe hit after the country went into complete lockdown on March 24 to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The lockdown, which brought most economic activity to a standstill as factories and businesses shut and thousands were left without jobs, has been extended twice through May 17, with some relaxations to allow the resumption of economic activity.