Union Finance Minister announces additional benefits for the agricultural sector

New Delhi: On Friday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman declared additional benefits for the joint ventures of farmers and agriculture businesses. The Finance Minister also shared information regarding the new plans to be implemented for businesses such as fishery and pisciculture. Besides, vaccination programmes will be held for 53 crore cattle too. Most importantly, the Finance Minister has made a big announcement concerning the amendment in the laws regarding essential commodities, which is being followed for 64 years, and agriculture produce market.

Nirmala Sitharaman stated the crucial policies for farmers, fishermen, animal husbandry and agriculture-related businesses from the 20 lakh crore relief package declared by PM Narendra Modi. The decision to make amendments in the Essential Commodities Act of 1955 has been taken. Because of this law, the farmers sold their goods at low prices. Essential goods like grains, edible oil, pulses, onions and potatoes will be removed from the list. A centralised rule will be introduced where the farmers can indulge in inter-state business. Moreover, there will be amendments made to the law regarding Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) where the farmers would be granted permission to sell their goods wherever they want. Sitharaman believes that this is how they would get fair deals, which eventually will lead to an increase in production.

Sitharaman also stated about the Farm Gate Infrastructure Fund which involves 1 lakh crore rupees. Through these funds, a chain of cold storages and centres for stocking the harvested crops will be constructed. The farmers produce crops and agricultural goods with immense efforts. However, because of insufficient storage facilities, the products are easily ruined, and the farmers have to bear those losses. Due to the shortage of warehouses, they have to sell their produce at lower rates. Hence, the government has decided to resolve this issue. The farmers will now get a 50% subsidy on the transportation of goods and cold storage expenses.

A new plan for clustering and branding the agricultural produce and the speciality of every state has been implemented. Bihar’s fox nuts (makhana), Kashmir’s saffron, North-eastern states’ bamboo and medicinal herbs have been taken into consideration by the Finance Minister. According to this policy, the businessmen of the micro food enterprises will be brought together to make their industries technologically efficient. Besides, with the help of self-help groups, the agricultural producing organisations can engage in the branding and the marketing of the production clusters. Ten thousand crores have been allotted to this policy.

Sitharaman has announced 20 thousand crores for the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY). In the next five years, the aim is to double the production of fish in the country. An amount of 11 thousand crores has been allotted for encouraging fish breeding at the seas and other water bodies. Additionally, 9 thousand crores will be allocated to improve the facilities for the same. Sitharaman expects that 55 lakh people get employment in this sector, and this sector will export goods worth 1 lakh crore rupees.

Besides, vaccination programmes will be held for 53 crore cattle too. India is one of the countries which is rich in cattle. The farmers have to face problems like the foot and mouth disease which infect the animals. By considering this, Sitharaman stated that the vaccination programme was immediately put into action. The Finance Minister claimed that this would lead to an increase in international demand. A sum of 13 thousand crores has been assigned for these vaccination programmes. Likewise, 4 thousand crores have been allocated for the cultivation of medicinal plants. The package declared on Thursday by the Finance Minister is mainly for the increase in production, quality and export in the agricultural sector.

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