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.