Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced the third set of benefits under the Rs 20 lakh core stimulus package that was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this week. Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the third instalment will deal with offering relief to agriculture and allied industries.
Talking about the measures taken by the central government for the agriculture sector in the past two months of Covid-19 pandemic, Nirmala Sitharaman said the centre has taken several measures in a to support farmers, such as minimum support price (MSP) purchases of Rs 73,300 crore during the two months of lockdown. In addition to this, Rs 18,700 crore in cash dole out were contributed under the PM Kisan Fund transfers and Rs 6,400 crore of payment in crop insurance has been done.
Key announcements made Finance Minister
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced creation of fund worth Rs 1 lakh crore for the development of agriculture infrastructure for farm-gate infrastructure such as cold chain, yards, etc. The impetus of this fund will be to develop farm-gate and aggregation point, affordable and financially viable post-harvest management infrastructure etc.
- The centre announced Rs 10,000 crore scheme intended at formalising Micro Food Enterprises (MFE). Nirmala Sitharaman said that the scheme will promote vision of ‘Vocal for Local with Global outreach’. She said the scheme is likely to help 2 lakh MFEs.
- The finance minister also proposed for developing state-specific cluster-based approach (e.g. Mango in UP, Kesar in J&K, Bamboo shoots in North-East, Chilli in Andhra Pradesh, Tapioca in Tamil Nadu etc). She said the expected results of this include improved health and safety standards, integration with retail markets and improved incomes. “It will also help in reaching untapped export markets in view of improved health consciousness,” she said.
- Besides, the government announced Rs 20,000 crores for fishermen through the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY). The minister said that this will help address the critical gaps in fisheries value chain. She said the government will be launching the PMMSY for integrated, sustainable, inclusive development of marine and inland fisheries. Rs 11,000 crore will be for activities in marine, inland fisheries and aquaculture, and Rs 9000 crore for infrastructure i.e. Fishing harbours, cold chain, markets etc.
- For those engaged in animal husbandry, the centre announced the National Animal Disease Control Programme. Under this, foot and mouth disease and brucellosis will be addressed. The government said this programme will have a budget of Rs 13,343 crores.
- Nirmala Sitharaman also announced the Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund worth Rs 15,000 crore.