New Delhi: Farmers will soon be able to use an app to track the nearest warehouse to store both their perishable and non-perishable agricultural produce.
The government-owned National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), which is in the process of geo-tagging all such warehousing and cold storage units, plans to upload this data on to an app to make it easily accessible to farmers.
“The idea is that a farmer should be able to locate a warehouse or cold storage unit in the 10 km vicinity to store their produce. They can store the produce and get a warehouse receipt credit. This will help in stopping distress sale by farmers and help them get the right price for their produce,” G.R. Chintala, NABARD chairman, said in an interview to ThePrint.
NABARD was tasked in the Union budget to geo-tag warehousing facilities and cold chain storages. “India has an estimated capacity of 162 million MT of agri-warehousing, cold storage, reefer van facilities etc. NABARD will undertake an exercise to map and geo-tag them,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said in this year’s budget speech.
There are an estimated 5 lakh storage structures in the country, of which around 1-1.5 lakh are estimated to be compliant with Warehouse Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA) norms, Chintala said.
NABARD has launched a pilot to geo-tag warehouses in three districts each of Tamil Nadu and Haryana. The data about the location of the warehouses as well as the pictures is being captured.
NABARD also plans to complete the geo-tagging of all existing warehouses by the end of the year and upload the data on the app, Chintala said.
Expanding India’s storage capabilities
Plans are also afoot to set up more WDRA-compliant warehouses that will help in efficient storing of perishable and non-perishable items, Chintala said.
According to a November 2019 CARE Ratings report, the total storage capacity available with official government agencies like the Food Corporation of India, the Central Warehousing Corporation and state agencies was at 862.45 lakh metric tonnes as of May 2019, but this was mainly in the form of covered godowns. Cold storage facilities were dominated by the private sector, according to the report. The total cold storage capacity was estimated at 32 million tonnes with the requirement estimated at nearly double of the availability.
The decision to catalogue warehouses and expand the number of warehouses comes at a time India has record foodgrain production but insufficient avenues to store them in manner to protect them against rot. India is estimated to have produced an all-time high foodgrain output of 295.67 million tonnes in 2019-20.
Easier loans for shepherds and goat rearers
NABARD will also soon offer credit guarantee for loans given to small shepherds and cattle rearers. A credit guarantee trust fund will help these small borrowers to avail adequate credit at affordable rates while ensuring that banks are not averse to lending to them, said Chintala.
The fund will be carved out of the existing Rs 15,000 crore animal husbandry infrastructure fund that received cabinet approval in June this year. It was set up to support dairy and meat processing industries. The credit guarantee fund amounting to around Rs 750 crore will guarantee 25 per cent of the loan given to these small borrowers. A part of the loan will also be backed by collateral, reducing the risk faced by banks.
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