Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressed the third of a series of press conferences meant to outline India's efforts to reboot its economy that has been hit hard due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sitharaman, along with MoS Finance Anurag Thakur said that the measures to be announced today will focus on agriculture and its allied activities.
Earlier, she had shared details of measures for small businesses, discoms, NBFCs and migrant workers.
On Thursday, she had announced the launch of ‘one nation one ration card’ scheme and said the Centre will also provide free food grains to those migrants who have no ration cards for the next two months as part of the second tranche of her economic package.
The government has been facing criticism for its handling of the migrant crisis as lakhs still continue to walk back hundreds of kilometres to their home states as their income dried up because of the lockdown.
Here are the key quotes from the Finance Minister's address:
- As many as 11 measures will be announced today, of which eight relate to strengthening infrastructure and storage facilities, and three will relate to governance and administrative reforms.
- Minimum Support Price purchases worth Rs 74,300 crore have been made in two months. Rs 18,700 crore DBT transfers were made to farmers' accounts.
-Rs 6,400 crores sent to farmers against claims under PM Fasal Bima Yojana.
-Rs 1 lakh crore announced for agri-infrastructure fund for farm-gate infrastructure for farmers. Impetus will be placed on development of farm-gate and aggregation point, affordable and financially viable post-harvest management infrastructure.
-During the lockdown period, the demand for milk reduced by 20-25%. A new scheme to provide interest subvention at 2% per annum to dairy cooperatives for 2020-21. The scheme will unlock Rs 5,000 crore additional liquidity and benefit 2 crore farmers.
-Government introduces a Rs 10,000 crores scheme for the formalisation of Micro Food Enterprises (MFE); the scheme promotes PM's vision of 'Vocal for Local with global outreach'.
-Rs 20,000 crore for fishermen through Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana. Rs 11,000 crore for activities in marine, inland fisheries and aquaculture. Rs 9,000 crore for infrastructure: Fishing harbours, cold chains, markets etc.
- The aim is employment to over 55 lakh people, and to double exports to Rs 1,00,000 crore. Focus will be on islands, Himalayan states, the North-east and aspirational districts.
- A national animal disease control programme for foot and mouth disease and brucellosis was launched with total outlay of Rs 13,343 crore. It ensures 100% vaccination of cattle, buffalo, sheep, goat and pig population. Till date 1.5 crore cows and buffaloes tagged and vaccinated.
- Rs 15,000 crore allocated to an animal husbandry infrastructure development fund. The aim is to support private investment in dairy processing, value addition and cattle feed infrastructure.
-Rs 4,000 crore allocated to promotion of herbal cultivation. 10,00,000 hectares will be covered under herbal cultivation in next two years and will lead to Rs 5,000 crore income generation for farmers.
-A network of regional mandis for medicinal plants will be established. NMPB will bring 800 hectare area by developing a corridor of medicinal plants along the banks of Ganga.
-Rs 500 crore have been allocated to bee-keeping initiatives. The government will implement a scheme for infrastructure development related to integrated beekeeping development centres, collection, marketing and storage centres. The thrust for capacity-building will be on women, which will lead to an increase in the income of two lakh beekeepers.
-Operation Greens to be extended from Tomatoes, Onions and Potatoes (TOP) to all fruits and vegetables (TOTAL). 50% subsidy on transportation from surplus to deficient markets will be provided and 50% subsidy on storage, including cold storage will be given.
-Amendments will be made to essential commodities act to enable better price realisation for farmers. Agriculture food stuffs including cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potatoes will be dergulated. Stock limit to be imposed under exceptional circumstances like national calamities, famines with surge in prices.
-Agriculture marketing reforms will be made to provide marketing choices to farmers. A central law will be formulated to provide adequate choices to farmers to sell produce at attractive prices, barrier-free inter-state trade, and a framework for e-trading of agriculture produce.
-Facilitative legal framework will be created to enable farmers for engaging with processors, aggregators, large retailers, exporters in a fair and transparent manner. Risk mitigation for farmers, assured returns and quality standardisation shall form integral part of the framework.
-"In today's situation, if a challenge can be treated as an opportunity to improve the system and bring new technology for the benefit of farmers and people then why not to do it," said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.