Topic: General Studies 3:
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
New Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (NAIF)
Context: Agricultural distress that preceded Pandemic and government’s vision of doubling Farmer’s income (Ahok Dalwai Committee)
Previous Government measures to Improve Farm Infrastructure
- National Horticultural Board provides credit-linked subsidy on capital investments in pre-cooling units, controlled/modified atmosphere cold stores, reefer vans, ripening/curing chambers and other such post-harvest infrastructure.
- A lot of storage capacity, including low-cost scientifically-built on-farm structures, has been created for onions under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.
About NAI Fund
- It is financing facility for setting up warehousing, cold chain, processing and other post-harvest management infrastructure
- It provides an interest subvention of 3 per cent on loans of up to Rs 2 crore for a maximum seven-year period.
- To implement the fund effectively and in order to make it attractive for banks, the loans would also have government-backed credit coverage against defaults
- The borrowers are mainly to be FPOs (farmer producer organisations) and primary agricultural cooperative societies
- It has a targeted disbursement of Rs 1 lakh crore over the current and next three fiscals.
Significance of NAI Fund
- Promotes Agro-processing: NAI Fund means increased investments in produce shelf life extension and value addition (indirectly encourages food processing sector)
- Reduces Wastage: 16% of fruits and vegetables and up to 10% of cereals, oil seeds and pulses are wasted in the country due to inadequate post-harvest infrastructure.
- Complementing the recent reforms: Government had issued ordinances removing stockholding restrictions on major foodstuffs and dismantling the monopoly of regulated mandis in the trading of farm produce.
- Phased Disposal of Produce empowers farmer: Being able to store their produce, enables farmers to harvest their crop, say, in March and make staggered sales till November to take advantage of higher off-season rates
- Additional Scheme: It would have made sense to merge all existing schemes with the new fund so as to better leverage government money.
- Its benefits will only accrue in the medium- to long-term. The government must not lose sight of the immediate economic challenge of boosting growth and incomes.
- Not a panacea: Cold chains and agro-processing cannot solve all of agricultural problems for ex: three-fourths of India’s sugarcane crop is “processed” by mills and issue of cane arrears still persist
Do You Know How Policy focus on agriculture has changed since Independence?
- The focus of policymakers during the first 40 years after Independence was raising farm production.
- In the subsequent two decades, they started paying more attention to agri-infrastructure and agro-processing.
- In today’s age of self-sufficiency & surplus produce, focus should be in crop planning and information dissemination (leveraging Data Analytics) to help farmers better align their production decisions to market demand.
Connecting the dots:
- Ashok Dalwai Committee of doubling farm income
- Essential Commodities Act