The Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, today said the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF), launched by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi under the AatmaNirbhar Bharat campaign, is scaling new milestones. Underlining the role of AIF in bridging the Agri Infra gap by empowering agriculture and villages and boosting private investment, Shri Tomar said the Agri Infra Fund has been brought to increase agricultural productivity, increase agricultural exports, make agriculture sector employable and attract the new generation. Shri Tomar was addressing the Agri Infra Fund Awards ceremony in New Delhi today.
“In the AatmaNirbhar Bharat campaign, more than Rs. 1.5 lakh crore are being invested in Agriculture and allied sectors. This should be used by the State Governments and banks together in the development of the Agriculture sector. This is a great opportunity for the States to fill the gaps in funding agricultural infrastructure. State governments should use it to make Agriculture strong and prosperous, which will make the country develop at a faster pace,” he said.
Shri Tomar said that agriculture sector is important for India. “The primacy of Agriculture has proved itself from time to time. Agriculture helped India come out of the Covid crisis and made a significant contribution to the economy at a time when other sectors were badly affected. Today India is one of the leading countries in the world in terms of agricultural produce,” said Shri Tomar.
“If you want to move forward in this field, then you have to identify the challenges and overcome them. There are 86 percent small farmers in the country, who own less than two hectares of land, while 55 to 60 percent of the country’s population is dependent on Agriculture. In such a situation, continuous efforts are being made for the last eight years under the leadership of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to upgrade the Agriculture sector. KCC has been increased from Rs 7 lakh crore to Rs 16.5 lakh crore. Banks are offering simple loan facility. Along with this, work is being done to form 10,00 FPOs so that the area under cultivation is increased, the quality of production is improved and the farmers can get good price for their produce,” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Kailash Choudhary dwelled on the role of Banks and Government agencies in empowering farmers and make the nation self-sufficient. Prime Minister Modi took a bold step by paving easy farm loans as he scrapped the need for a collateral, saying the Government of India will stand guarantee, he said.
In his address, Secretary, DA&FW, Shri Manoj Ahuja, called for improved monitoring to make the loan process faster in line with the promptness of the portal based loan approval mechanism.
Joint Secretary, DA&FW, Shri Samuel Praveen Kumar made a detailed presentation on the two year-journey of AIF. While showering accolades on the Bankers and State Governments for their contribution, he urged them to reinvigorate their teams to make the on-going NOBOL (Nationwide One Branch One Loan) Campaign a grand success.
On the occasion, Shri Tomar gave away the awards under various categories to honour Banks and State Governments for their valuable contribution in financing under the Central Sector Scheme of ‘Agriculture Infrastructure Fund’.
Among the Best Performing Banks, State Bank of India was awarded as numero uno followed by Punjab National Bank and Bank of India. In the second category where banks were awarded for their valuable contribution, Bank of Baroda followed by Central Bank of India, Canara Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank were honoured. In the Target Achievers Category during the Campaign, awarded Banks were Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank, HDFC Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Punjab & Sind Bank and Karnataka Bank. Among the Best Performing Regional Rural Banks, Madhya Pradesh Gramin Bank followed by Madhyanchal Gramin Bank, Maharashtra Gramin Bank, Baroda Rajasthan Kshetriya Gramin Bank were awarded.
In the State category, Madhya Pradesh was adjudged the best performing State, whereas Andhra Pradesh was recognised as best performer in sanction of PACS applications. As the best performer in faster disposal of PACS applications, Karnataka was awarded and Rajasthan was declared the Rising State under AIF. NABARD Consultancy services, the Knowledge Partner for this Scheme was honoured for the laudable contribution in carrying forward the Scheme.
Shri Tomar and General Manager, Bank of India also handed over the sanction letter to one of the Beneficiaries of Drone project. Later, the Award winning Bankers and States and successful beneficiaries shared their experience with the audience.
Addl. Secretary Sri Abhilaksh Likhi, Senior Officials from the Ministry and Government Officials from various States, Top Executives and senior officials from Banks, NABARD, NABCONS and Beneficiaries of AIF scheme and others participants joined the event.
Agri Infra Fund, under the ambitious AatmaNirbhar Bharat Package as a dedicated central scheme providing medium-long term credit facility for creation of post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets, will be celebrating its 2nd foundation day next month. This facility comes with financial support by way of three percent Interest subvention from Government and credit guarantee by CGTMSE up to Rupees 2 crore. This scheme can be converged with most of the existing Central schemes in terms of combination of benefits of different schemes. This has immensely benefitted stakeholders in the agricultural ecosystem – Farmers, Agri-entrepreneur, FPO, SHG, JLG, PACS, APMC, Startups, Central Marketing Cooperative Societies and State Agencies.
As of now, there has been sanction of 13,700 projects, costing investment of around Rs.17,500 crore with a sanction of Rs 10,131 crore loans. On an average 30 agriculture infrastructure projects per day are being sanctioned under the scheme all over the country in shape of warehouses, assaying units, primary processing units, custom hiring centres, sorting & grading units, cold store and cold chain projects, bio-stimulant manufacturing facilities, seed processing units, etc. which will have huge impact in changing the agriculture landscape of the country.