Role of Agricultural Infrastructure
Infrastructure plays a vital role in agriculture at every single step like for the supply of input, sowing of crops and for the post-harvest management. Planned investment in agriculture infrastructure sector is important to enhance the productivity and to reduce the post-harvest losses this will also result in capacity building and higher income generation. In India post-harvest losses are relatively higher because of gap of basic agriculture infrastructures like storage houses, pack houses, absence of proper supply chain etc.
In view of above, Government of India has formulated a Central Sector Scheme of financing facility under ‘Agriculture Infrastructure Fund’ which was launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India on 9th August 2020for creating required pre and post-harvest management infrastructures in the agriculture sector. Agriculture Infrastructure Fund aims at providing a medium/long term debt financing facility till 2025-2026 through 3% interest subvention and credit guarantee support on loans for creation of post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets. Community farming assets eligible under Agri Infra Fund includes: (i) Organic inputs production (ii) Bio stimulant production units (iii) Infrastructure for smart and precision agriculture. (iv) Projects identified for providing supply chain infrastructure for clusters of crops including export clusters. (v) Projects promoted by Central/State/Local Governments or their agencies under PPP for building community farming assets or post-harvest management projects. In addition to the aforementioned community farming assets, farmer communities such as PACS, FPOs, SHGs, JLGs, Multipurpose Co-op societies, Marketing Co-op societies and their federations are also eligible to get the benefit under Agri Infra Fund for creation of following post-harvest management infrastructures: (i) Supply chain services including e-marketing platforms (ii) Warehouses (iii) Silos (iv) Pack houses (v) Assaying units (vi)Sorting & grading units (vii) Cold chains (viii) Logistics facilities (ix) Primary processing centres (x) Ripening Chambers. Since the inception of the scheme in Aug 2020, loan amounting to Rs. 6182 Cores have been sanctioned for 8630 Projects across the country. Out of which Rs 77.9 Crores for 210 projects has been sanctioned in the state of Odisha.
The Government has been assisting the state Governments for bringing improvements in the Infrastructure Facilities in the Agriculture Sector through implementing various schemes as per details given below:
(i) In order to promote scientific storage facilities in rural areas of the country, the Government is already implementing Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure (AMI) which is a sub-scheme under the Integrated Scheme for Agricultural Marketing (ISAM). AMI scheme is a demand driven with back ended credit linked subsidy scheme in which rate of subsidy provided is @ 25% and 33.33% based on the category of eligible beneficiary. Assistance under the sub-scheme is available to Individual, Group of farmers/growers, Registered Farmer Produce Organizations (FPOs) etc.
(ii) Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) under which financial assistance for setting up of Post-Harvest Management Infrastructure including cold storage, cold room facilities for horticultural produce @ 35% of the project cost in general areas and 50% in case of hilly and scheduled areas per beneficiary is available. The component is demand/ entrepreneur driven through commercial ventures for which Government assistance is credit linked and back ended.
(iii) Government of India has launched National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) Scheme on 14th April, 2016 with the objective of creating online transparent competitive bidding system to facilitate farmers with remunerative prices for their produce.So far, 1000 mandis of 18 States and 3 UTs have been integrated with e-NAM platform.
(iv) Sub Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) is being implemented w.e.f April,2014.The scheme aims at ‘reaching the un-reached’ by bringing to the small and marginal farmers in the core and giving the benefits of farm mechanization, by Promoting ‘Custom Hiring Centers’, creating hubs for hi-tech & high value farm equipment, distribution of various agricultural equipment, creating awareness among stakeholders through demonstration and capacity building activities, and ensuring performance- testing and certification at designated testing centers located all over the country.
(v) Under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY),the funds are released to the State Governments as Grants-in-Aid on the basis of projects in Agriculture & allied sectors approved in the State Level Sanctioning Committee Meeting (SLSC) headed by the Chief Secretary of the concerned State, which is the empowered body to approve projects under the scheme.
(vi) Government is promoting certified organic production under the Mission Organic Value Chain Development for NE Region (MOVCDNER) since 2015-16. The scheme provide end to end support to organic farmers from organic production to certification and marketing including post harvest management support like processing, packaging, storage etc. Need based financial support for creating infrastructure facilities like integrated processing unit, integrated pack-house, cold store etc. are provided to States under MOVCDNER
No specific study for assessing the impact of initiatives/ schemes since 2014 on the income of farmers of West Bengal has been carried out. However, Impact Evaluation Study of MIDH Scheme has been taken twice since 2014. As per the report, the average income of the horticulture farmers has been increased. Improved horticultural practices and income enhancement have led the farmers to invest further for expansion. Therefore, the scheme has also generated direct and indirect employment in various parts of the country as well.
The Central Sector Scheme (AIF) aims at providing a medium-long term debt financing facility till 2025-2026 through 3% interest subvention and credit guarantee support on loans for creation of post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets to numerous beneficiaries including farmers.