New Delhi: The Centre on Monday signed a $200 million loan agreement with the World Bank to promote agri businesses and climate-resilient farming in the north-eastern state of Assam.

Further, the ‘Assam agri-business and rural transformation project’ will also aim to raise farm productivity and provide farmers in the state with better market access.

According to an official statement from the finance ministry, the project will be implemented in 16 districts in Assam benefiting over 500,000 farm households. Also, the project will focus on women-led enterprises and expects at least 30% participation of women in project activities.

The statement added that the project will develop a market-led production system to introduce crops that are resilient to climate change. Drought and floods are a recurrent phenomenon in the state with more than 50% of its paddy-growing areas prone to flooding and submergence.

“Assam is simplifying several regulatory procedures related to doing business, agricultural marketing and fisheries," said Sameer Kumar Khare, joint secretary at the department of economic affairs.

He added that “the project will help the state increase agricultural productivity by strengthening farming systems, and raising private sector investments to promote agri-enterprises which will create better job opportunities for the youth."

Among others, the project will use a cluster approach to promote production of certain farm commodities and take advantage of existing and future market opportunities.

An official statement said that a cluster approach will help share the risks involved in introducing improved products or entering previously untapped markets.

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