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Govt task force identifies challenges in agriculture; pegs fund for better farm infrastructure

Tooba Maher
Tooba Maher

Agriculture infrastructure funding pegged at Rs 1.68 lakh cr for 2020-25: Govt task force

A total investment of Rs 1.68 lakh crore has been projected by government task force to augment farm infrastructure over the five years & reduce post production annual loss of Rs 44,000 crore.

National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) final report of the task force for 2020-2025 presented to the government has suggested agricultural reforms broadly in 3 areas. They are e-market infrastructure, storage and processing, & research and development (R&D).

Headed by Atanu Chakraborty, Economic Affairs Secretary, the task force in its final report has pointed out insufficient market infrastructure, which includes grading & certification facilities, ineffective cold chain management and low level of processing of agriculture produce, as major challenges in agriculture & food processing industry.

India's post production wastage levels are high, because of these challenges. Thus, leading to a loss of Rs 44,000 crore annually. Even agri-exports as a share of GDP is fairly lower for India as compared to the rest of the world despite being one of the largest producers of agri-commodities globally.

Therefore, to address the problem, the task force recommended a Rs 1,68,727 crore investment for strengthening farm infrastructure over 5 years. From which, an investment of Rs 1,34,820 crore will be required to implement 20 identified projects which includes conversion of rural haats (open-air local markets) into GrAM, agri-market infrastructure (terminal markets for fruits/vegetables, computerisation of primary agricultural credit societies), testing facilities & creation of cold chain facilities.

Around Rs 27,652 crore investment has been proposed for some projects in states, whereas, Rs 5,000 crore to improve food & public distribution, & Rs 1,255 crore to build 15 mega food parks in the next 5 fiscals. The task force said there are implementation challenges in the electronic National Agriculture Market (eNAM), which was launched in the country to give better prices for farmers & lower agri-produce rates for consumers.

Adding to it, infrastructural bottlenecks have prevented wide adoption of e-NAM. Even mandi regulations have prevented effective functioning of this platform & helped in fair price discovery for farmers. It said, and recommended urgent reforms for expediting adoption of model Agricultural Produce & Livestock Marketing Act.

For improving storage and processing infrastructure, the task force has suggested removal of bottlenecks with regard to steady power supply. There is a need to give conducive regulatory environment for e-tailers for investing in supply chain, improve adherence to quality standards apart from enhancing storage capacity.

The task force has also stated that total research & development expenditure in India is much lower than the US and China. It suggested for creation of an enabling environment, which promotes participation of multiple stakeholders in provision of R&D services.

The task force recommended the need to focus on precision agriculture, creating a knowledge hub to send best farm practice, developing models of integrated farming and export-oriented institutions.


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