Karnataka has announced a slew of measures to strengthen post-harvest infrastructure and custom hiring centres in the State to encourage value addition and augment farmer incomes in the State budget. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, presenting the budget for 2023-23, also announced the withdrawal of the amendment to the APMC Act to protect the farmers’ interest.

Popular scheme Krishi Bhagya will be launched again in convergence with Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, with an allocation of ₹100 crore, he said. A new scheme called ‘Navodyama’ will be launched with an allocation of ₹10 crore for value addition of agricultural produce and to encourage innovation in the field of agricultural marketing. Besides an allocation of ₹10 crore will be provided to encourage branding of farmers’ produce on the lines of ‘Nandini’ to enable marketing of farmers’ produce in State, national and international markets, Siddaramaiah said.

In order to strengthen Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), 100 FPOs in backward talukas will be given financial assistance in the form of 4 per cent interest subsidy on loans up to ₹20 lakh each, availed from commercial and co-operative banks.

Seed capital

Also, seed capital up to a maximum 20 per cent of the project cost not exceeding ₹1 crore will be provided for construction of godowns, cold storages and other infrastructure to facilitate export of produce of FPOs. In order to promote exports of farm products, ₹5 crore is being provided to support FPOs, start-ups and micro food processing entrepreneurs. An interest subsidy of up to 7 per cent on bank loans of upto ₹20 lakh will be provided to farmers for construction of godowns to store their produce.

Further to strengthen the custom hiring centres — Krishi Yantradhare Kendra — that provide agricultural implements on rent, the government proposes to establish 300 high-tech harvester hubs in a phased manner and 100 hubs will be set up during 2023-24 at a cost of ₹50 crore, Siddaramaiah said. “Our government expects the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) to work in the best interest of the farmers and ensure a fair price for their produce. Our government in its earlier tenure took several measures to strengthen the APMCs and introduced online market system, the first-of-its-kind in the country. However, by amending the APMC Act, the previous government weakened the healthy marketing network and created uncertainty in lives of lakhs of farmers who depended on APMCs for their livelihoods.” Siddaramiah said.

Before the amendment to the APMC Act, the total income of 167 APMCs of the State in 2018-19 was between ₹570 crore to ₹600 crore, which has drastically fallen to ₹193 crore in 2022-23 after the Act was amended. “Besides, there are many instances before us of private companies deceiving and exploiting farmers in the open market. Our government has decided to withdraw this anti-farmer Act to in order to protect the interest of farmers,” Siddaramiah said.