Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said important decisions regarding agriculture and farmers' welfare have been taken in the first meeting of his rejigged cabinet. In order to empower the mandis, arrangements have also been made for the use of Agriculture Infrastructure Fund as well as interest subvention on loans, he added.
The Union Cabinet chaired by PM Modi today gave its approval to the following modifications in Central Sector Scheme of Financing Facility under ‘Agriculture Infrastructure Fund’:
1. Eligibility has now been extended to State Agencies/APMCs, National & State Federations of Cooperatives, Federations of Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs) and Federations of Self Help Groups (SHGs).
2. At present Interest subvention for a loan upto Rs. 2 crore in one location is eligible under the scheme. In case, one eligible entity puts up projects in different locations then all such projects will be now be eligible for interest subvention for loan upto Rs. 2 crore. However, for a private sector entity there will be a limit of a maximum of 25 such projects. This limitation of 25 projects will not be applicable to state agencies, national and state federations of cooperatives, federations of FPOs and federation of SHGs. Location will mean physical boundary of a village or town having a distinct LGD (Local Government Directory) code. Each of such projects should be in a location having a separate LGD code.
3. For APMCs, interest subvention for a loan upto Rs. 2 crore will be provided for each project of different infrastructure types e.g. cold storage, sorting, grading and assaying units, silos, et within the same market yard.
4. The power has been delegated to Hon’ble Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare to make necessary changes with regard to addition or deletion of beneficiary in such a manner so that basic spirit of the scheme is not altere
5. The period of financial facility has been extended from 4 to 6 years upto 2025-26 and overall period of the scheme has been extended from 10 to 13 upto 2032-33.
Meanwhile, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar assured the farmers, who are protesting against the Centre's three contentious farm laws, that the APMCs (Agricultural produce market committees) will not be done away with. In fact, he added that the APMCs will be strengthened with the aid of the funds allocated under Atmanirbhar Bharat.
Tomar further appealed to the protesting farmers to end their agitations. He reiterated that the Centre will not repeal the three farm laws, however, it is ready to hold talks to discuss other options.
For the uninitiated, the Centre and the unions have held 11 rounds of talks, the last being on January 22, to break the deadlock and end the farmers' protest. They are protesting against three laws and these laws are -- The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.