Launch of the new Central Sector Scheme of financing facility under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund for establishment of post-harvest infrastructure is expected to lighten the burden of Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation in handling agricultural produce in the delta districts.
The district administrations are learnt to have activated the Agriculture and Horticulture departments, NABARD and Lead Banks to pursue the scheme in right earnest against the backdrop of the difficulties faced by the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation in storing the produce brought by farmers to Direct Purchase Centres during the harvest season.
The scheme will facilitate building of godowns, and setting up grading and sorting units which will help member farmers secure a higher price for their produce.
“We do face problems in storing paddy brought by farmers directly after harvest for the Samba crop in particular. Out of 314 Direct Purchase Centres for paddy in Nagapattinam and Mayiladuthurai districts, only 123 centres function in own buildings. There are limitations in storing paddy and are helpless when there is sudden rainfall,” a senior TNCSC official said.
There are some technical impediments in operationalising the modern silo at Erukkur in Sirkazhi in Mayiladuthurai district. The modern silo has been established with a capacity to hold 50,000 tonnes of paddy, and is linked by conveyor belts to the modern rice mills. The problems on the mechanical side are being rectified, sources said.
The TNCSC officials are of the view that village-level storage facilities will help iprevent post-harvest losses due to rainfall, cyclones or other such factors.
According to NABARD sources, some groundwork has to be done to prepare the mindset of the farming community to derive the benefit of the scheme.
The Agriculture Infrastructure Fund is a medium-long term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and credit guarantee. Since establishing post-harvest facilities warrants large investment, an element of hesitancy is palpable, the official said.
Under the Central scheme, ₹1 lakh crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans with interest subvention of 3% per annum and credit guarantee coverage under CGTMSE (Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises) scheme for loans up to ₹2 crore. The beneficiaries will include farmers, Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies, Marketing Cooperative Societies, Farmer Producer Organisations, Self Help Groups, Joint Liability Groups (JLG), Multipurpose Cooperative Societies, Agri-entrepreneurs, Startups, and Central/State agency or Local Body sponsored Public-Private Partnership entities.
The State government has announced that ₹5,990 crore will be spent for the purpose. A substantial portion is expected to be utilised in the delta region.
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