Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

The Finance Minister announced a host of measures, focusing on big ticket reforms and allocation of money for agricultural related infrastructure and logistics.

The FM announced the proposed changes in essential commodities act will help, a major reform to introduce a free market for the Indian agricultural community and allow the farmers to choose merchants to sell their produce.

New rules will facilitate farmers to enage with processors, aggregators, large retailers, exporters etc in a fair and transparent manner and help them sell agricultural produce at attractive prices. The government is also mulling to enable barrier free inter-state trade and a framework for e-trading of agricultural produce. Current restriction on corporates to direct access to farm produce will be lifted which will help the farmers to achieve better realisations.

The government is also mulling to reduce the farmer’s dependency on APMCs to sell their produce. Under the current rules, the farmers are bound to sell agriculture produce only to licensees in Agricultural Produce & Livestock Market Committee (APMCs). This resulted in the hindrance of free flow of agricultural produce and fragmentation of markets and supply chain.

Apart from the proposed reforms, the FM further announced a financing facility of Rs 1 lk cr for funding Agriculture infrastructure projects. It will help primary agriculture cooperative societies, farmers producer organisations and agri startups. A separate fund of Rs 10,000 crore is also created for micro food enterprises to help them for branding, modernising and capacity expansion. The fund is expected to benefit 2 lakh MFEs.

Under the PM Matsya Sampanda Yojna, a fund of Rs 20,000 crore is allocated for the marine, inland fisheries sector to help building new fishing vessels, harbours and insurance of boats and individuals. This sector provides employment to 55 lakh workers and it is expected to contribute Rs 1 lk cr to India’s exports.

Under the National Animal Disease Program, 100% vaccination for cattle, buffalo, sheep and pigs against foot and mouth disease will be ensured with an outlay of Rs 13,343 crore and a fund of Rs 15,000 crore is allocated for Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development.

The package further announced Rs 4,000 crore for promotion of herbal cultivation and Rs 500 crore is allocated for bee keeping initiatives.

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