UP govt's farm bonus: cheap loans to infra push

UP govt’s farm bonus: cheap loans to infra push
© Provided by The Indian Express

Ahead of the Assembly elections in the state, the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh on Friday said that it would provide additional incentives such as subsided interest rates on farm loans, promotion of farm-based industries as well as development of farm infrastructure under the “Atma Nirbhar Krishak Samanvit Vikas Yojana”, which was launched earlier this year to increase farmers’ income.

The state Cabinet, led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, gave its nod to the the implementation of the Central government “umbrella scheme” for farmers aimed at developing farm-based infrastructure by utilising the centrally sponsored Agriculture Infrastructure Fund.

According to the government, the scheme will be implemented in the current financial year with the Uttar Pradesh government aiming to set up at least 1,475 Farmers Produce Organisations (FPOs) — three FPOs in each of the 825 development blocks of the state — in the next three years.

“There are three broad aspects of the benefits under the umbrella of Atma Nirbhar Krishak Vikas Yojana. Already, under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, there is a 3 per cent subsidy on interest that is provided by the Government of India. Now, we (UP government) have decided to provide an additional 3 per cent interest subsidy to the farmers,” said Devesh Chaturvedi, Additional Chief Secretary (Agriculture) in the UP government.

Under the Centre’s Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, Uttar Pradesh has been allocated Rs 12,000 crore. Under the scheme, farm entities are provided 3 per cent interest subsidy annually for 7 years and a bank loan guarantee of up to Rs 2 crore.

The additional interest subsidy of 3 per cent would cost the state exchequer Rs 239 crore, but will also encourage investment of Rs 2,250 crore in setting up of farm-based industries and units in the state.

The official said that while cooperative societies can avail loan under Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, they have to pay 20 per cent margin money. “We found that there are about 1,500 PACS (Primary Agriculture Cooperative Society) that wanted to avail the funds so as to further provide loan at just 1 per cent interest, but they could not provide the 20 per cent margin money. Therefore, Government has decided to provide the margin money to the banks as a one-time fund for them so that they can avail loans, which would further boost the infrastructure,”Chaturvedi said.

As per the UP government’s statement, it will provide Rs 60 crore as one-time margin money to 1,500 PACS, which would ensure that PACS provide up to Rs 240 crore loan annually at the rate of 1 per cent. According to the government’s estimates, it would help 22.50 lakh farmers in the state and provide direct and indirect employment.

The state government has also set the target to establish one Farmers Produce Oganisation (FPO) in every development block in one year and at least three FPOs in every development block in the next three years.

“Since there are 825 blocks in the state, and setting aside the assistance provided by Government of India to set up 1000 FPOs in the UP, the state government has decided to provide financial assistance to the remaining 1,475 to meet this target. This would include the target to set up 225 FPOs in 2021-2022, 625 in 2022-23, and 625 FPO in 2023-24,” a government spokesperson said, adding that this would directly benefit 14.75 lakh shareholder farmers.

The UP government will bear Rs 1220 crore cost in implementing the scheme from 2021-2022 to 2031-2032.

It is also been proposed to invest Rs 140 crore for developing infrastructure at the 27 mandis in the state.

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