New Delhi: Agriculture Infrastructure Fund with a capital of Rs 1 lakh crore was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi through a video conference which was attended by lakhs of farmers, cooperatives, and citizens across the country.
The scheme was first announced by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman as part of a Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus and relief package in the wake of the coronavirus disease pandemic.
Modi also transferred the sixth instalment of the cash payment for farmers under the PM-KISAN scheme, making the announcement via video conferencing. Under the sixth instalment, Rs 17,000 crore has been deposited into the bank accounts of 85 million farmers.
According to the guidelines for the agriculture infrastructure fund, all loans up to Rs 2 crore will be disbursed with a 3% interest subsidy. The loans will be disbursed in the next four years with a sanction of Rs 10,000 crore in 2020-21 and Rs 30,000 crore in the next three years.
“The agriculture infrastructure fund will provide better warehousing and cold storage facilities for farmers and is a step towards doubling of farm income,” Modi said. The fund will also create new jobs as investments will flow into food processing and post-harvest facilities in rural India.
The fund was launched with Rs 1,128 crore of new loans given to over 2,200 cooperative societies.
Under the infrastructure fund, banks and financial institutions will provide up to Rs1 lakh crore in loans to cooperative societies, farmer producer companies, self-help groups, entrepreneurs, startups, and infrastructure providers.
Through videoconferencing, Modi interacted with farmers from Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat. He urged farmers to stop the indiscriminate use of chemical fertilisers like urea to improve soil health.
“The Prime Minister had an engaging discussion with the representatives of these societies to understand their current operations and how they plan to utilise the loan. The societies informed the Prime Minister about their plans to build godowns, set up grading and sorting units which will help member-farmers secure a higher price for their produce,” an official statement said.