APMC mandis will now be eligible to avail financial support from the Rs 1 lakh crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund to expand the regulated markets’ capacity and provide better facilities to farmers, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Thursday.
Tomar also asserted that the decision to further strengthen the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) allays protesting farmers’ fear that these mandis will scrapped with the implementation of three controversial agriculture laws.
This modification in the central scheme was approved in the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
Briefing media about the cabinet decision, Tomar said: “During the Budget (2021-22), we had told that APMCs will not end, rather they would be strengthened further. Keeping that in mind, the Cabinet today decided to allow APMC to utilise the Rs 1 lakh crore financing facility under Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF).”
Stating that there was apprehension that APMCs will be abolished, the minister reiterated that these regulated mandis will not end. “After implementation of the three farm laws, APMC will get funds from this agri-infra fund.”
For APMCs, interest subvention for a loan up to Rs 2 crore will be provided for each project of different infrastructure types like cold storage, sorting, grading and assaying units and silos within the same market yard, he added.
APMC markets are set up to provide market linkages and create an ecosystem of post-harvest public infrastructure open to all farmers.
Not only APMCs, Tomar said the financial facility under this fund has been extended to state agencies, national and state federations, farmer producer organisations (FPOs) as well as federation of self-help groups (SHGs).
So far, individuals, organisations, cooperatives, FPOs and agri-start ups and farmers organisations were eligible to avail subvention of 3 per cent per annum for loans up to Rs 2 crore, he added.
Under the AIF, a medium to long-term debt financing facility is provided for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and financial support.
Among other changes in the scheme, the minister said that currently interest subvention for a loan up to Rs 2 crore in one location is eligible under the scheme.
“In case one eligible entity puts up projects in different locations, then all such projects will be now be eligible for interest subvention for loan up to Rs 2 crore,” he said.
However, for a private sector entity, there will be a limit of a maximum of 25 such projects. However, this limitation will not be applicable to state agencies, national and state federations of cooperatives, federations of FPOs and federation of SHGs, he said.
Location will mean physical boundary of a village or town having a distinct LGD (Local Government Directory) code. Each of such projects should be in a location having a separate LGD code.
The minister further said the period of financial facility has been extended from 4 to 6 years up to 2025-26. The overall period of the scheme has been extended from 10 to 13 years up to 2032-33.
In a separate statement, the government said the power has been delegated to the Union Agriculture Minister to make necessary changes with regard to addition or deletion of beneficiaries in such a manner so that basic spirit of the scheme is not altered.
The modifications in the scheme will help to achieve a multiplier effect in generating investments while ensuring that the benefits reach small and marginal farmers, it said.