In a major shift in its lending practice, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has opened a lending window to the corporate sector for construction of warehouses and creation of cold storages and cold chains.

NABARD had only been granting soft loans to State governments for social sector projects.

Speaking to The Hindu on Monday, G.R. Chintala, Chief General Manager (CGM), Regional Office, Bangalore, said it was for the first time that NABARD would be financing storage infrastructure projects of private companies and private entrepreneurs.

The lending rate of interest is 9 to 10 per cent to private firms and 8 per cent to State-owned boards and corporations with government guarantee.

NABARD, which has conducted a Statewide survey on storage capacity in the State, estimates a storage gap of 21 lakh million tonnes by 2016-17. The present warehousing capacity in the State is 13.24 lakh tonnes. The gap at the national-level is 15 million tonnes.

Enhancing the warehousing capacity would help farmers in terms of better price realisation post-harvest and for pledging loans. “The warehouse gap is significantly high in the districts of Davangere, Shimoga, Mandya, Mysore, Belgaum, Bellary, Yadgir, Koppal and Raichur, Mr. Chintala said.

Bridging the gap

To fill the gap, the State requires an investment of Rs. 1,500 crore for construction of warehouses and Rs. 1,000 crore for cold storages in the next four years. The average wastage in the horticulture sector, between farm gate and the wholesale sector, is about 30 per cent in the State.

NABARD has taken the decision to lend to the private sector at a meeting held on September 23. “There is no lending limit to Karnataka. We will be ready to grant even Rs. 1,000 crore if we receive good proposals from the corporate world,” an official said.

He said it would be easy to grant loans to built warehouses of 5,000-tonne capacity each.

Warehouses should be built as per the Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA) guidelines. “As per the scheme, all the structures/infrastructure to be created should be in accordance with WDRA guidelines and will include normal warehouses, silos, cold storages and controlled atmosphere structures, bulk chillers and individual quick freezing (IQF) units,” the CGM said.

NABARD will lend for special purpose vehicles set up under the PPP model, cooperatives, federations, cooperative federations, agricultural produce marketing committees, State-level boards, apex marketing boards/bodies and panchayats for creation of storage space for dry and cold storages, for foodgrains as well as other agricultural commodities. The scheme titled ‘NABARD Warehousing Scheme 2013-14 (NWS)’, approved by the Union Finance Ministry, envisages to provide funds to meet the growing demand for storage capacity for agricultural commodities in the entire country and also in the wake of enactment of National Food Security Act 2013, he said.

A sum of Rs. 5,000 crore has been allocated by the Centre for the purpose. NABARD expects about 10 million tonnes of additional storage at the national-level would be created out of funding from NWS 2013-14.

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