Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched a financing facility of Rs 1 lakh crore under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund for agri-entrepreneurs, startups, agri-tech players and farmer groups for post-harvest management and nurturing farm assets.
Modi also released the sixth installment of Rs 17,100 crore to more than 8.55 crore farmer beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme.
The Prime Minister launched the new Agriculture Infrastructure Fund through video conference. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and senior ministry officials were also present on the occasion.
Last month, the Union Cabinet had approved this fund as part of the over Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package announced in response to the COVID-19 crisis, while PM-KISAN is an ongoing scheme being implemented since 2018.
The new agri-infra fund, the duration of which will be 10 years till 2029, aims to provide medium-to-long term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and financial support.
Under this, about Rs 1 lakh crore will be sanctioned under the financing facility in partnership with multiple lending institutions as loans to primary agri-credit societies, farmer groups, farmer producer organisations (FPOs), agri-entrepreneurs, startups and agri-tech players.
Already, 11 of the 12 public sector banks have signed memorandum of agreement with the Agriculture Ministry.
Under the fund, about 3 per cent interest subvention and credit guarantee of up to Rs 2 crore will be provided to the beneficiaries to increase the viability of the projects.
Loans will be disbursed in four years starting with sanction of Rs 10,000 crore in the current year and Rs 30,000 crore each in the next three financial years.
Moratorium for repayment under this financing facility may vary, subject to a minimum of six months and maximum of two years.
Further, credit guarantee coverage will be available for eligible borrowers from this financing facility under the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme for a loan of up to Rs 2 crore. The fee for this coverage will be paid by the government.
In case of FPOs, credit guarantee may be availed from the facility created under the FPO promotion scheme of the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DACFW).
The funds will be provided for setting up of cold stores and chains, warehousing, silos, assaying, grading and packaging units, e-marketing points linked to e-trading platforms and ripening chambers, besides PPP projects for crop aggregation sponsored by central/state/local bodies.
The agri-infra fund, which will be managed and monitored through an online Management Information System (MIS) platform, will enable all the qualified entities to apply for loan under the fund
Under the PM-KISAN scheme, the government is providing annually Rs 6,000 in three equal installments to 14 crore farmers. The amount is directly transferred into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries through direct benefit transfer (DBT) mode.