Infrastructure plays a crucial role in the development of agriculture and taking production dynamics to the next level. It is essential to focus on infrastructure, especially at the post-harvest stage, to ensure optimal utilization of produce, value addition, and fair deals for farmers. Additionally, developing infrastructure addresses the challenges posed by nature, regional disparities, human resource development, and harnesses the full potential of our limited land resources.
Announcement and Objective
In recognition of the importance of agricultural infrastructure, the Honorable Finance Minister announced the Agri Infrastructure Fund of Rs. 1 lakh crore on 15th May 2020. This funding aims to support the development of farm-gate infrastructure for farmers. The financing facility of Rs. 1,00,000 crore will be available for funding Agriculture Infrastructure Projects at farm-gate and aggregation points, including Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies, Farmers Producer Organizations (FPOs), Agriculture entrepreneurs, and Start-ups. The objective is to promote the development of farm-gate and aggregation points by establishing affordable and financially viable post-harvest management infrastructure.
Scheme Implementation and Inclusivity
The Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (DA&FW) has formulated the Central Sector Scheme to mobilize medium to long-term debt financing for investment in viable projects related to post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets. To ensure inclusivity, the scheme has been extended to Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) based on the budget announcement made on 1st February 2021. Necessary modifications have been approved by the Cabinet to make the scheme more inclusive and beneficial.
Credit Guarantee Coverage and Interest Subvention
Eligible borrowers can avail credit guarantee coverage from this financing facility under the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme for loans up to Rs. 2 crore. The government will bear the fee for this coverage. Farmers Producer Organizations (FPOs) may avail credit guarantee from the facility created under the FPO promotion scheme of DA&FW.
All loans under this financing facility will benefit from an interest subvention of 3% per annum, up to a limit of Rs. 2 crore. This interest subvention will be available for a maximum period of 7 years. For loans exceeding Rs. 2 crore, the interest subvention will be limited to the first Rs. 2 crore. The extent and percentage of funding allocated to private entrepreneurs from the total financing facility will be determined by the National Monitoring Committee.
Duration and Implementation
The scheme will be operational from 2020-21 to 2032-33, with loan disbursement expected to be completed within six years. This ensures a reasonable time frame for accessing the financing facility and completing the necessary investments in agricultural infrastructure.
The National Agriculture Infra Financing Facility serves as a significant boost to agricultural development in India. By providing financial support and incentives, this scheme encourages investments in post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets. The credit guarantee coverage and interest subvention provisions aim to alleviate financial burdens on borrowers and make the scheme accessible to a wide range of stakeholders. With its operational timeline and implementation strategy, this scheme will contribute to the overall growth and prosperity of the agriculture sector in the country.