Cabinet gives a nod for the modified Rs 1 lakh crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund
In a move which will expand the beneficiary institutions, including Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs), to avail credit of up to Rs 2 crore from the Fund to set up cold storage, sorting, grading and assaying units, the Cabinet on Thursday approved modifications in the guidelines of the Rs 1-lakh-crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF).
The government has sanctioned projects worth Rs 4,300 crore from AIF till now.
After the Cabinet meeting, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar talked about the apprehension among a section of farmers that mandis will be closed down, whereas the government has been doing everything to strengthen the APMCs.
The repayment period has been increased from 4 years to 6 years up to 2025-26 and the overall period of the scheme has been extended from 10 years to 13 years up to 2032-33.
He also appealed to farmer unions to end their protest and resume talks with the government on provisions of three farm laws, that have been suspended by the Supreme Court in January. Tomar again ruled out the repeal of these Acts. He also asserted that the procurement system on the minimum support price (MSP) will stay.
The government said in a statement that eligibility (to avail loans from AIF) has now been extended to state agencies/APMCs, national and state federations of cooperatives, federations of farmers producers organisations (FPOs) and federations of self-help groups (SHGs).
The Cabinet also allowed the agriculture minister to make necessary changes in future without seeking its approval with regard to the addition or deletion of beneficiaries without altering the basic spirit of the scheme.
As of now, interest subvention for a loan of up to Rs 2 crore by one organisation or farmer in only one location is eligible under the scheme. In case, one eligible entity puts up projects in different locations then all such projects will be eligible for interest subvention. However, for a private sector entity, there will be a limit of a maximum of 25 such projects.