Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday that an Agriculture Accelerator Fund will be set up to encourage agri-startups by young entrepreneurs in rural areas and agriculture credit target will be increased to Rs 20 lakh crore.
In her speech on Wednesday while presenting the 2023-24 union budget, the minister said digital public infrastructure for agriculture will be built as an open source, open standard and inter operable public good.
“This will enable six inclusive, farmer-centric solutions through relevant information services for crop planning and health, improved access to farm inputs, credit, and insurance, help for crop estimation, market intelligence, and support for growth of agri-tech industry and start-ups,” Sitharaman said.
“An Agriculture Accelerator Fund will be set-up to encourage agristartups by young entrepreneurs in rural areas. The fund will aim at bringing innovative and affordable solutions for challenges faced by farmers. It will also bring in modern technologies to transform agricultural practices, increase productivity and profitability. To enhance the productivity of extra-long staple cotton, will adopt a cluster-based and value chain approach through Public Private Partnerships (PPP),” she added.
The minister said this will mean collaboration between farmers, state and industry for input supplies, extension services, and market linkages.
She said the government will launch an Atmanirbhar Clean Plant Program to boost availability of disease-free, quality planting material for high value horticultural crops at an outlay of Rs 2,200 crore.
She also said agriculture credit target will be increased to Rs 20 lakh crore with focus on animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries.
“We will launch a new sub-scheme of PM Matsya Sampada Yojana with a targeted investment of ` 6,000 crore to further enable activities of fishermen, fish vendors, and micro and small enterprises, improve value chain efficiencies and expand the market.”
The minister said a new Ministry of Cooperation was formed with a mandate to realise the vision of ‘Sahakar Se Samriddhi’.
“To realise this vision, the government has already initiated the computerisation of 63,000 Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) with an investment of 2,516 crores. In consultation with all stakeholders and states, model bye-laws for PACS were formulated enabling them to become multipurpose PACS. A national cooperative database is being prepared for country-wide mapping of cooperative societies,” the Finance Minister said.
For helping the farmers in storing their produce, the government will set up a decentralised storage capacity’.
“We will implement a plan to set up massive decentralised storage capacity. This will help farmers store their produce and realize remunerative prices through sales at appropriate times. The government will also facilitate setting up of a large number of multipurpose eight cooperative societies, primary fishery societies and dairy cooperative societies in uncovered panchayats and villages in the next five years,” the Finance Minister said.
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