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Nirmala Sitharaman presser highlights: Reform initiatives in agriculture will boost farmers’ income, says PM Modi

FM Nirmala Sitharaman presser hightlights: In the third tranche of announcements, the Finance Minister announced a set of measures for agriculture and allied activities, including fisheries.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: May 17, 2020 11:26:31 am
A farmer working in the field, with mask during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19, in Agartala. (Express photo by Abhisek Saha/File)

FM Nirmala Sitharaman presser highlights: Unveiling the third tranche of the Rs 20-lakh crore Covid economic package as part of the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (self-reliant campaign)’, the Finance Minister announced a set of measures for agriculture and allied activities, including fisheries. The major announcements included setting up of a Rs 1 lakh crore agriculture infrastructure fund for farm-gate infrastructure, and a Rs 10,000 crore scheme for the formalisation of micro food enterprises.

Stating that farmers currently are bound to sell their produce only to licensees in APMCs (Agricultural Produce Market Committees) and that no such restriction of sale applies for any industrial produce, Sitharaman said the government will bring in a law to implement agriculture marketing reforms to provide adequate choices to farmers to sell their produce at an attractive price by removing inter-state trade barriers and providing e-trading of agriculture produce.

The government will also amend the stringent Essential Commodities Act to remove cereals, edible oil, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potato from its purview. With an aim to plug critical gaps in the fisheries value chain, a Rs 20,000 crore fund has been allocated through Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana—Rs 11,000 cr for activities in Marine, Inland fisheries and Aquaculture and Rs 9,000 crore for the infrastructure of fishing harbours, cold chains and markets.

While the first tranche of measures focussed on alleviating the distress in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector, the second set was aimed at migrant workers, farmers, and street vendors.

Live Blog

FM Nirmala Sitharaman's third set of Covid economic package. Track all highlights here. Read in Malayalam

21:02 (IST)15 May 2020
Reform initiatives in agriculture will boost farmers' income: PM Modi

Welcoming measures announced by FM Sitharaman, PM Narendra Modi said they will give a fillip to the agrarian sector. He also lauded the reform initiatives in agriculture, saying that it will boost the income of farmers.

20:22 (IST)15 May 2020
Nothing but jumlas: Captain Amarinder Singh on FM's agrarian package

Trashing the announcements made by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for the Agriculture Sector as nothing but a pack of `jumlas’, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday said the so-called economic package offered no immediate relief to the distressed farmers, who were battling the stress of handling two major crops one after the other in extremely tough conditions. With all the three tranches of the much-awaited economic package announced so far turning out to be a major disappointment for the targeted sections of the society, it was clear that the Centre had failed to come to the rescue of the people who were struggling with the unprecedented Covid crisis and the resultant lockdown, said the Chief Minister.

19:32 (IST)15 May 2020
Farmers won't benefit from FM's 'Jumla' announcements: Congress

Reacting to Sitharaman's third tranche of measures, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said neither the farmer nor the farm labourers will benefit from the "Jumla" (empty promise) announcements of the Finance Minister. "Today, farmers and farm workers are frustrated and disappointed," Surjewala said. He also claimed that the government is pushing the farmer in the debt trap instead of providing help. "One thing is clear that the Modi govt neither understands the pain of the farmer nor the problem of farming. Therefore, the farmers have not been extended any help, even worth a single penny," Surjewala said.

19:12 (IST)15 May 2020
Naidu welcomes reforms announced in agriculture sector

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday expressed happiness over the government's decision to remove curbs on inter-state sale of agri products, saying it will greatly benefit farmers. "Happy the government decided to remove curbs on inter-state sale of agri-produce and formulate a central law to provide adequate choices to farmers to sell their produce at attractive prices," the Vice President's Secretariat tweeted quoting Naidu. He said these reforms were "long overdue" and will greatly benefit the farmers.

18:24 (IST)15 May 2020
Measures show Modi's foresight to make India self-sufficient by empowering farmers: Amit Shah

Hailing the third set of measures towards the agrarian sector, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the Narendra Modi-led government believes India's welfare lies in the welfare of farmers. "This unprecedented assistance given to farmers today shows Modi's foresight to make the country self-sufficient by empowering farmers. For this, I congratulate Narendra Modi and Nirmala Sitharaman," he tweeted.

18:16 (IST)15 May 2020
Highlights of Sitharaman's third tranche of measures

  • Rs 1 lakh crore Agri Infrastructure Fund for farm-gate infrastructure for farmers. Financing facility of Rs. 1 lakh crore to be provided for funding Agriculture Infrastructure Projects at farm-gate and aggregation points (Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies, Farmers Producer Organisations, Agriculture entrepreneurs.
  • Rs 10,000 crore scheme for the formalisation of Micro Food Enterprises. The scheme promotes the vision of PM Narendra Modi's "Vocal for Local with Global Outreach".
  • The government will launch the PMMSY for integrated, sustainable, inclusive development of marine and inland fisheries. Rs 11,000 crore for activities in Marine, Inland fisheries and Aquaculture. Rs 9,000 crore for Infrastructure - Fishing Harbours, Cold chain, Markets etc. It will lead to additional fish production of 70 lakh tonnes over 5 years and employment to over 55 lakh persons.
  • A central law will be formulated to provide adequate choices to farmers to sell their produce at remunerative price, barrier-free inter-state trade, and a framework for e-trading of agriculture produce.
  • The government will amend the Essential Commodities Act in order to enable better price realisation for farmers by attracting investments and making agriculture sector competitive.
  • Operation Green will be extended from Tomatoes, Onion and Potatoes (TOP) to ALL fruits and vegetables (TOTAL). The scheme features will include a 50% subsidy on transportation from surplus to deficient markets and a 50% subsidy on storage, including cold storages.
  • The government will implement a scheme for infrastructure development related to integrated beekeeping development centres, collection, marketing and storage centres, post harvest and value addition facilities. This will lead to increase in income for 2 lakh beekeepers and quality honey to consumers.
  • 10,00,000 hectare will be covered under herbal cultivation in next two years with outlay of Rs. 4,000 crore. Will lead to Rs. 5,000 crore income generation for farmers.
  • There are many areas in the country with high milk production and a great potential for private investment in dairy. An Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund of Rs. 15,000 crore will be set up to incentivise this.
  • National Animal Disease Control Programme for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) & Brucellosis launched with total outlay of Rs. 13,343 crore. It ensures 100% vaccination of cattle, buffalo, sheep, goat and pig population (total 53 crore animals).

17:09 (IST)15 May 2020
Agriculture marketing reforms to provide marketing choices to farmers

Sitharaman said the government will bring in law to implement agriculture marketing reforms to provide marketing choices to farmers; law will provide adequate choices to farmer to sell produce at attractive price.

17:04 (IST)15 May 2020
Essential Commodities Act amendments to enable better price realisation for farmers

The government will amend the Essential Commodities Act to enable better price realisation for farmers by attracting investments and making agriculture sector competitive. In addition, agriculture food stuffs including cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potato will be deregulated. Stock limit to be imposed under very exceptional circumstances like national calamtities, famine with surge in prices.

16:59 (IST)15 May 2020
Beeking initiatives, 'TOP' to Total, and other initiatives

The government will implement a scheme for infrastructure development related to beekeeping. This aims to increase income for 2 lakh beekeepers with special thrust on capacity building of women. In another major development, the government extended Operation Greens from Tomatoes, Onion and Potatoes (TOP) to ALL fruits and vegetables. Under this 50 per cent subsidy will given on transporation from surplus to deficient markets and 50 per cent subsidy on storage, including cold storages.

16:52 (IST)15 May 2020
Promotion of Herbal cultivation

With an aim to promote Herbal cultivation in the country, the government has committed Rs 4000 crore. The move aims to cover 10 lakh hectare under herbal cultivation in two years; corridor of medicinal plants to come up across banks of Ganga

16:50 (IST)15 May 2020
Govt to set up Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund worth Rs 15,000 cr

Sitharaman said an Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund of Rs 15000 crore will be set up in order to support private investment in Dairy processing, value addition and cattle feed infrastructure.

16:47 (IST)15 May 2020
Govt launches National Animal Disease Control Programme

The government has launched the National Animal Disease Control Programme for foot and mouth disease (FMD) and Brucellosis launched with total outlay of Rs 13,343 crores. It will ensure 100 per cent vaccination of cattle, buffalo, sheep, goat and pig population for FMDA and for brucellosis.

16:41 (IST)15 May 2020
Rs 20,000 cr for fishermen through PMMSY

Sitharaman said the government will launch the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) for integrated, sustainable, inclusive development of marine and inland fisheries. An estimated Rs 11,000 crore will be earmarked for activities in marine, inland fisheries and aquaculture. Additionally, Rs 9000 crore will be earmarked for the infrastructure regarding fishing harbours, cold chains and markets.

16:37 (IST)15 May 2020
Rs 10,000 cr scheme for formalisation of Micro Food Enterprises

Unorganised MFEs units need technical upgradation to attain FSSAI food standards, build brands and marketing. A scheme will be launched to help 2 lakh MFEs attain above goals. Existing micro food enterprises, farmer producer organisation, self-help groups and cooperatives to be supported. This is expected to improve health and safety standards, integration with retail markets and improved incomes.

16:26 (IST)15 May 2020
Rs 1 lakh cr Agri Infrastucture Fund for farm-gate infrastructure for farmers

FM Sitharaman, who is flanked by her deputy MoS Anurag Thakur, announced Rs 1 lakh crore for aggegators, FPOs, primary agriculture cooperation societies, and for strengthening farm gate infrastructure. The Finance Minister also announced Rs 10,000 crore for micro food enterprises following cluster-based approach.

16:11 (IST)15 May 2020
Third package: Sitharaman to announce 11 measures pertaining to agriculture and allied activities

In her third press conference in as many days, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said she will announce 11 measures that will pertain to agriculture and allied activities. Eight will be related to strengthening infrastructure, logistics, storage, while three measures will be on governance administration and reforms.  

16:02 (IST)15 May 2020
Govt safety net for migrant workers and poor has little for now, more for later

There was an expectation that a package aimed at migrant workers, farmers and street vendors would strive to offer immediate relief given that they have borne the brunt of the lockdown-related distress for over 50 days now. But more than half the nine major proposals announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday have a longer-term horizon. Besides, the second leg of the relief package continues with the basic design of leveraging large stimulus with minimal fiscal cost — of the total liquidity infusion of Rs 3.10 lakh crore, the likely outflow from the Centre’s exchequer is only about Rs 5,000 crore. Thursday’s measures focused on the poorer segments of society, including migrant labour, small and marginal farmers and urban poor, seems skewed more towards the long-term. Read more here

16:00 (IST)15 May 2020
First dose is liquidity: MSMEs get mega guarantee

As part of the first tranche of the economic relief plan, Sitharaman on Wednesday announced packages for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sector that lies at the heart of the industrial ecosystem and employs an estimated 11 crore persons, including much of the country’s migrant workforce. While the 16 specific announcements announced in the first tranche cut across sectors that range from MSME and Non Banking Finance Companies to real estate and power distribution and the salaried, the overarching theme was that of infusing liquidity. And engineering a pass-through effect that ultimately puts more disposable funds in the hands of both entrepreneurs and employees. While the package is unlikely to create much stress for the fiscal exchequer as most of the measures are focused on off-balance sheet support through credit guarantees and tax deferment, the success of the scheme is predicated on these measures working as a multiplier to improve the risk appetite of lenders and catalyse fresh funding of distressed smaller firms.

15:55 (IST)15 May 2020
Finance Minister to announce third leg of Covid-19 package today

Sitharaman will announce the third leg of the Covid-19 economic package today.

15:53 (IST)15 May 2020
Quick recap of major announcements in last two days

Hello folks, welcome to our latest LIVE blog on the government's third set of economic measures. As the FM is scheduled to address the media shortly, here is a quick recap of all major announcements she made in the last two days. 

With the third phase of lockdown ending on May 17 and contours of the fourth stage being in discussion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his address to the nation, had said that recent set of announcements in addition to the government's earlier Covid package and decisions of RBI amounts to Rs 20 lakh crore or 10 per cent of India's GDP. He had pointed out that several bold reforms would have to be undertaken to make the country self-reliant so that the impact of the global pandemic could be negated.

As on Friday morning, the total number of novel coronavirus cases in the country crossed the 80,000 mark, including 2649 deaths. While there are 51,401 active cases, as many as 27919 persons have recovered so far.

In the first tranche, 16 specific announcements cut across sectors that range from MSME and Non Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) to real estate and power distribution and the salaried were made, but the overarching theme was that of infusing liquidity. Meanwhile, Thursday’s measures focused on the poorer segments of society, including migrant labour, small and marginal farmers and urban poor, seems skewed more towards the long-term.

The announcement of free foodgrain supply (5 kg of grains and 1 kg chana per person) for two months to 8 crore migrant workers without a ration card and outside the ambit of National Food Security Act was expected to provide some relief to migrant workers.

But experts said this entails resolving complicated logistical issues. Since every public distribution shop has a fixed number of registrants based on which the stock of foodgrains is supplied to the shop, allowing accessibility to non-cardholders may result in shortage of supplies at these outlets.

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