It took almost nine months to design after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his interaction with officials in May last year on ways to boost the agriculture sector, underlined the importance of developing Brand India for which agri-clusters can be promoted.
With the aim to boost export of agriculture products, the Centre has identified several products under 15 broad categories, allotting one product for each of the country’s 728 districts so that there is convergence of resources under different schemes of various ministries and also it helps increase farmers’ income.
The products have been identified from agricultural, horticultural, animal, poultry, milk, fisheries, aquaculture, marine sectors across the country after taking inputs from the states, Union Territories and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
“These products need to be promoted in a cluster approach through convergence of the Government of India schemes to increase the value of the products and with the ultimate aim of increasing the income of the farmers,” said Shubha Thakur, a joint secretary in the agriculture ministry, in her letter to all the chief secretaries of the states. These identified products will be supported under the PM-FME scheme of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, which provides incentives to promoter and micro-enterprises, the letter said.
The programme, named as One District One Focus Produce (ODOFP), was announced Saturday. It took almost nine months to design after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his interaction with officials in May last year on ways to boost the agriculture sector, underlined the importance of developing Brand India for which agri-clusters can be promoted. The government has already set a target to achieve $60 billion agri exports by FY22.
Under the Rs 10,000-crore FME scheme, launched last year, two lakh micro-enterprises are targeted to be assisted with credit-linked subsidy over a five-year period to help create infrastructure and marketing of these ODOFP products. The unorganised food processing sector has nearly 25 lakh units (66% located in rural areas), which contribute to 74% of the total employment in the sector, while the remaining 25% work in the organised industries.
However, the success of the programme hinges on allowing entrepreneurs to directly purchase those products in each specified district. Since the implementation of the three farm laws has been stayed by the Supreme Court, states can suitably make changes in the Rules under their respective APMC Act so that entrepreneurs are allowed to buy directly from farmers, an agriculture ministry official said, adding there should not be any tax/cess on the ODOFP products as those are meant for export.
Kadapa and Anantapur districts in Andhra Pradesh were identified for banana exports as part of a commerce ministry plan in 2018 to develop 50 districts as exports clusters. However, there were difficulties to sell bananas even in the domestic market after the lockdown was announced last year and finally the agriculture ministry made arrangement to sell those in other states. On the other hand, items like non-basmati rice performed well as the country had exported more during April-September of FY21 than the quantity shipped in entire FY20.