Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced the third tranche of the Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package focussing on agriculture, dairy, animal husbandry and allied activities. The Centre will immediately create a Rs 1 lakh crore Agri-Infrastructure Fund for farm- gate infrastructure for small and medium farmers, most of whom are marginalised.

“Financing facility of Rs 1,00,000 crore will be provided for funding Agriculture Infrastructure Projects at farm-gate and aggregation points which will include primary agricultural co-operative societies, farmer producer organizations, agricultural entrepreneurs and start-ups. The fund will be created immediately,” Sitharaman said

The lack of adequate cold chain and post-harvest management in the vicinity of farm-gate is causing gaps in value chains. The government’s focus has been on short-term crop loans while investment in long-term agriculture infrastructure has often not been enough, the minister indicated.

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“I have announced 11 measures today, of which 8 are related to strengthening infrastructure, capacities and building better logistics in the country, while the other 3 pertain to governance and administrative reforms,” the finance minister said at the daily news briefing.

This is the third phase of announcements by the Union Finance Ministry elaborating on the Centre’s Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package.

A couple of days earlier, on Wednesday, Sitharaman had said that over the next few days, the finance ministry would hold daily media briefings to put forth Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a self-reliant India and share more details on the economic package meant to revive the industry as well as the agricultural sector grappling with a 51-day nationwide lockdown.

The lockdown had been imposed towards the end of March to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The finance minister over the last three days has announced a slew of measures under the huge economic package of Rs 20 lakh crore that she said would infuse vigour in the economy and benefit various agricultural, economic and industrial sectors.