Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan Explained: Part -3 Agriculture

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Context: Recently, the Union Finance Minister announced the measures to strengthen Infrastructure Logistics, Capacity Building, Governance and Administrative Reforms for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Processing Sectors as part of the third tranche of Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. The announced measures also form a part of the ₹20 lakh crore economic stimulus package to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Earlier, the Economic Stimulus-I and the Economic Stimulus-II were announced.

Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.
Mains: GS III-

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development, and employment. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  • The 3rd Tranche includes measures to strengthen Infrastructure Logistics, Capacity Building, Governance, and Administrative Reforms for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food Processing Sectors.

Key measures announced

Agri Infrastructure Fund

  • Financing facilities of ₹1,00,000 crore for funding Agriculture Infrastructure Projects at farm-gate and aggregation points (Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies, Farmers Producer Organizations (FPOs), Agriculture entrepreneurs, Start-ups, etc.).
  • Funds will be created immediately.
  • E-NAM (e-National Agriculture Market):
    •  It is an important initiative of GoI to use the pan-India electronic trading portal for bidding and network the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.
  • Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC)
    • It is a statutory market committee constituted by a State Government in respect of trade in certain notified agricultural or horticultural or livestock products, under the Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act issued by that state government.

The formalization of Micro Food Enterprises

  • A ₹10,000 crore scheme promoting ‘Vocal for Local with Global outreach’ will be launched to help 2 lakh Micro Food Enterprises (MFEs) who need technical up-gradation to attain the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) food standards, build brands and marketing.
  • Existing micro food enterprises, FPOs, Self Help Groups (SHGs) and Cooperatives will be supported.
  • The focus will be on women and SC/ST owned units and those in Aspirational districts and a Cluster-based approach (e.g. Mango in Uttar Pradesh, Tomato in Karnataka, Chilli in Andhra Pradesh, Orange in Maharashtra, etc.) will be followed.

Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana

  • The scheme will be launched for integrated, sustainable, inclusive development of marine and inland fisheries.
  • ₹11,000 crores for activities in Marine, Inland fisheries and Aquaculture and ₹9000 crores for Infrastructure (fishing harbors, cold chain, markets, etc) shall be provided.
  • The focus will be on Islands, Himalayan States, North-east, and Aspirational Districts.
Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana
  • PMMSY is a scheme to bring about the Blue Revolution through sustainable and responsible development of the fisheries sector in India under two components namely, Central Sector Scheme (CS) and Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS).
  • The Scheme will be implemented during a period of 5 years from FY 2020-21 to FY 2024-25.
  • Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying.

National Animal Disease Control Programme

  • National Animal Disease Control Programme for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Brucellosis launched with a total outlay of ₹13,343 crores to ensure 100% vaccination of cattle, buffalo, sheep, goat, and pig population.

Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund

  • Under it, a fund of ₹15,000 crores will be set up, with an aim to support private investment in Dairy Processing, value addition, and cattle feed infrastructure.
  • Animal rearing or husbandry is considered an associate business with agricultural activities in rural India and is an integral component of Indian agriculture, supporting the livelihood of the rural population.
  • Incentives will be given for establishing plants for the export of niche products.
  • A niche product is a product targeting a specific section of a larger industry and market. Niche products are often (but not always) more expensive than more generic products.
  • Example:
    • Organic foods, Speciality foodstuff like high-quality coffee, Customisable products, etc.

Promotion of Herbal Cultivation

  • 10,00,000 hectares will be covered under Herbal cultivation in the next two years with an outlay of ₹4,000 crores which will lead to ₹5,000 crore income generation for farmers.
  • The National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) has supported 2.25 lakh hectare area under cultivation of medicinal plants and will bring 800-hectare area by developing a corridor of medicinal plants along the banks of Ganga.
  • NMPB was set up by the Government of India on 24th November 2000 to promote the medicinal plant's sector.
  • Currently, the board is located under the Ministry of AYUSH.

Beekeeping Initiatives

  • With an outlay of ₹500 crores, the Government will implement a scheme for:
  • Infrastructure development related to Integrated Beekeeping Development Centres, capacity building, collection, marketing and storage centers, post-harvest & value addition facilities.

Extension of Operation Greens

  • Operation Greens run by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries will be extended from Tomatoes, Onion, and Potatoes (TOP) to all fruit and vegetables, with an outlay of ₹500 crores.
  • It will provide a 50% subsidy on transportation from surplus to deficit markets, 50% subsidy on storage, including cold storages, and will be launched as a pilot for the next 6 months and will be extended and expanded.
  • This will lead to better price realization to farmers, reduced wastages, and affordability of products for consumers.
Operation Green
  • It is a price fixation scheme that aims to ensure farmers are given the right price for their produce.
  • It aims to promote Farmer Producers Organizations (FPO), Agri-logistics, processing facilities, and professional management of agri-produce.
  • It focuses on organized marketing of Tomatoes, Onions, and Potatoes (TOP vegetables) by connecting farmers with consumers.
  • State Agriculture and other Marketing Federations, Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO), cooperatives, companies, Self-help groups, food processors, etc. can avail of the financial assistance under it.
  • To help in the structural and infrastructure part of the scheme, the agriculture market committee (APMCs) promoted markets will be connected to the e-NAM platform.
  • The government will also help in the development of 22,000 agricultural markets.

Amendments to the Essential Commodities Act, 1955

  • Under the amendments to the Essential Commodities Act (ESA), agriculture foodstuffs including cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions, and potatoes shall be deregulated.
  • Stock limits will be imposed under very exceptional circumstances like national calamities, famine with a surge in prices.
  • Further, no such stock limit shall apply to processors or value chain participants, subject to their installed capacity or to any exporter subject to the export demand.
Essential Commodities Act
  • The ECA was enacted way back in 1955.
  • It has since been used by the Government to regulate the production, supply, and distribution of a whole host of commodities it declares ‘essential’ in order to make them available to consumers at fair prices.
  • The list of items under the Act includes drugs, fertilizers, pulses, and edible oils, and petroleum and petroleum products.
  • The Centre can include new commodities as and when the need arises, and take them off the list once the situation improves.
  • Under the Act, the government can also fix the maximum retail price (MRP) of any packaged product that it declares an “essential commodity”.

Agriculture Marketing Reforms

  • A Central law will be formulated to provide:
    • Adequate choices to the farmer to sell their produce at a remunerative price.
    • Barrier-free Inter-State Trade.
    • Framework for e-trading of agriculture produce.
Advantages from the Reforms
  • The two recent reforms of amendment in the ECA and the proposed formulation of a Central law that will not bind farmers to sell their crop only to licensed traders in the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis of their respective talukas or districts will empower farmers.
  • ECA will define clear triggers in terms of “price surges” for the imposition of stocking limits.
  • These provisions will be incorporated in the Act itself to remove any scope for administrative ambiguity.
  • This will help in inflation-targeting within the ceiling of 6% as prescribed by the Reserve Bank of India.
  • While agriculture is a state subject and state governments have accordingly enacted their own APMC Acts, the new Central law apparently relies on Article 301 (Freedom of trade, commerce, and intercourse) of the Constitution along with entries in the Seventh Schedule (defines and specifies the allocation of powers and functions between Union and States).
  • These give powers to the Centre to regulate all interstate and intrastate trade and commerce in foodstuffs, which can be used to create an integrated national market by removing restrictions placed by APMC laws.

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