Agriculture Current Affairs

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Union Cabinet approves Interest Subvention on Short-Term Crop Loan to Farmers

The Union cabinet has approved the Interest Subvention Scheme (ISS) for farmers for the year 2017-18. The Government has allocated Rs. 20,339 crore for this scheme.

Salient Highlights

The objective of the scheme is to make available agricultural credit for Short Term crop loans at an affordable rate. The scheme is expected to boost agricultural productivity and production in the country.

Under this scheme, farmers will be given a short term crop loan up to Rs. 3 lakh payable within one year at an interest rate of 4% per annum.

The scheme will be continued for 1 year and will be implemented by NABARD and RBI. 

The interest subvention will be provided to Public Sector Banks (PSBs), Private Sector Banks, Cooperative Banks and Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) and to NABARD for refinancing to RRBs and Cooperative Banks.

Interest subvention of 5% per annum will be provided to those farmers who pay the short term crop loan in time. Farmers will have to effectively pay only 4% as interest. For farmers who do not pay crop loan in time the interest subvention of only 2% will be applicable as against 5% available above.

This institutional credit is expected to demotivate farmers from taking loans from non-institutional sources of credit at high rates of interest.

Background

Interest Subvention Scheme (ISS) has been running since 2006-07. Under this scheme, crop loans are offered at 7% rate of interest for loans up to Rs.3 lakh. Further subvention of 3% will be provided to farmers who prompt repay the loans within a period of one year from the date of advance.

The scheme also offers post-harvest loans for storage in accredited warehouses against Negotiable Warehouse Receipts (NWRs) for a period of 6 months to check distress sale.

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Fact Box: SAMPADA Scheme

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved re-structuring the schemes of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) under new Central Sector Scheme called as SAMPADA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) for the time period 2016-20.

Salient Highlights

SAMPADA is an umbrella scheme incorporating ongoing schemes of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) such as Mega Food Parks, Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure, Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure, etc. It will also incorporate the new schemes like Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters, Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages, as well as Creation / Expansion of Food Processing & Preservation Capacities.

SAMPADA with an allocation of Rs. 6,000 crore is expected to benefit 20 lakh farmers and generate 5,30,500 direct and indirect employment opportunities in the country by the year 2019-20.

The objective of SAMPADA is to supplement agriculture, modernize processing of agri products and decrease their wastage.

Significance

The new umbrella scheme gives renewed thrust to the food processing sector in the country. It aims to develop modern infrastructure to facilitate entrepreneurs to set up food processing units based on cluster approach and provide effective and seamless backward and forward integration for processed food industry. It proposes to achieve this by plugging gaps in supply chain and development of infrastructure facilities for processing and preservation and modernization of existing food processing units. As a result, SAMAPADA will result in the creation of modern infrastructure coupled with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to a retail outlet. It would provide better prices to farmers and would help in doubling their incomes. Implementation of the scheme will result in creating huge employment opportunities, especially in rural areas. From the perspective of the consumer, it would promote the availability of safe and convenient processed foods at an affordable price.

Other initiatives to boost Food Processing industry

  • The government has allowed 100% FDI in trading including through e-commerce with respect to food products manufactured and produced in India.
  • The Governments has created a Special Fund of Rs. 2000 crore in NABARD to provide credit at the concessional rate of interest to designated food parks and agro-processing units in the designated food parks.
  • Food and agro–based processing units and cold chain infrastructure have been placed under the ambit of Priority Sector Lending (PSL).

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Maharashtra becomes First State to Use Automated Weather Stations (AWS) for Farmers

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has inaugurated the state’s first automatic weather station at Dongargaon in Nagpur. The state government proposes to install around 2,065 such weather stations across the state on a public private partnership (PPP) mode in this year and 1,000 in next year.

The weather stations will be helpful in measuring the wind direction, wind speed, air temperature, relative humidity and record amount of rainfall.

The information gathered by the weather stations would be shared among the farmers by making them available on Mahavedh portal (Maharashtra agriculture weather information network) as well as on the mobile application of Skymet. Weather forecast firm Skymet Weather Private Ltd will be setting up these weather stations.

Significance

The farmers of the state can make use of the information to manage sowing in a much better and planned way as per the weather conditions. These weather stations are significant because the IMD forecast is limited to only four zones. The weather related information is not made available by the IMD at the level of taluks. But, the AWS will provide forecast up to taluka level. As one weather station will be installed for an area of around 12×12 km, micro-level weather forecasts will be possible.

In addition, the digital kiosks will be set-up in every Gram Panchayat to disburse weather related information and expert advice on crop pattern to the farmers. During the first phase, information will be shared using SMS. In the second phase, half hourly updates will be provided to all the Gram Panchayats. The sensors of the AWS will be able to record important parameters relevant for agriculture like temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, rainfall, solar radiation, leaf wetness, soil moisture and temperature and atmospheric pressure and evapotranspiration.

The state government plans to use the data provided by the AWS to prepare location-specific agriculture advisories, better disaster management, design crop insurance schemes and establish a weather database bank.

 

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