New Delhi– As the pandemic severely hits the economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the rural economy of India is on a strong footing, bucking the overall economic slowdown, courtesy the ‘record’ procurement of farmers’ produce by the government.

Speaking at the launch programme of the Rs 1 lakh crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund, Modi said it was due to the farmers that the country did not have to face problems in terms of essential food items during the lockdown.

“When the country was under lockdown, our farmers were harvesting their crop and were also making new records in terms of sowing,” he said.

Prime Minister added that the government assured record public procurement of the farmers’ produce, leading to an increase of Rs 27,000 crore in the money transferred to the farmers.

Talking of the recent decisions to end the Essential Commodities Act and freeing the farmers from the limitations of selling at the APMC of a concerned state, he said that these decisions will change the scenario of rural economy in the country and will also lead to multiple increase in farmers’ income.

He noted that the government plans to set up around 10,000 farmer-producer organisations (FPO) in the country.

On Sunday, Modi launched the Rs 1 lakh crore financing facility under the ‘Agriculture Infrastructure Fund’. The fund was announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat economic package in May.

It has been created for funding in agriculture infrastructure projects at the farm-gate and aggregation points such as primary agricultural cooperative societies, farmer producer organisations and agriculture entrepreneurs, among others.

This will provide impetus for development of other financially viable post harvest management infrastructure, as per the government. It was announced in view of the lack of adequate cold chain and post harvest management infrastructure in the vicinity of farm gate causes gaps in value chains.

The Prime Minister also initiated the transfer of Rs 17,100 crore benefit to bank accounts of 8.55 crore farmers under the PM-KISAN scheme.

He expressed his satisfaction with the pace of implementation of the PM-KISAN scheme. He also noted that the scale of the program is so large that the funds released on Sunday have reached more people than the entire population of several countries taken together.

During the virtual launch program, Modi also interacted with three Primary Agriculture Credit Societies from Karnataka, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. (IANS)