Cabinet nod: Modified Rs 1-lakh-crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund to help mandis upgrade


The repayment period has been increased from 4 years to 6 years up to 2025-26 and overall period of the scheme has been extended from 10 years to 13 years up to 2032-33.

The Cabinet on Thursday approved modifications in the guidelines of the Rs 1-lakh-crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF), 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.

So far, the government has sanctioned projects worth Rs 4,300 crore from AIF.

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There has been apprehension among a section of farmers that mandis will be closed down, whereas the government has been doing everything to strengthen the APMCs, said agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar after the Cabinet meeting. The repayment period has been increased from 4 years to 6 years up to 2025-26 and overall period of the scheme has been extended from 10 years to 13 years up to 2032-33.

Taking the opportunity, Tomar also reiterated his appeal to farmer unions to end their protest and resume talks with the government on provisions of three farm laws, which are in suspension after the Supreme Court suspended it in January. Tomar again ruled out repeal of these Acts. He also asserted that the procurement system on the minimum support price (MSP) will stay.

“The APMCs are allowed to set up infrastructure facilities even outside the market yard premises, but will be within their command area,” Tomar said. This will help APMCs as most of the current market yards do not have additional space within the premises to set up such infra, said an official of the agriculture ministry. During FY22 Budget, finance minister had announced that APMCs would be allowed to avail credit from AIF.

“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 government said in a statement. The Cabinet also allowed the agriculture minister to make necessary changes in future without seeking its approval with regard to addition or deletion of beneficiary without altering basic spirit of the scheme.

Currently, 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.

The 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.

The Cabinet also decided to make the post of chairman, Coconut Development Board (CDB), as a non-executive one while it approved creation of a chief executive officer in that organisation. Besides, the government decided to allow the CDB to expand its activities abroad, so far restricted to the country, with an objective to boost export and help increase farmers’ income.



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