The Centre on Monday announced that farmers and processors can now get the benefit of 50 per cent subsidy on storage and transportation of 18 more fruits and vegetables from surplus production areas to major consumption centres under the existing 'Operation Greens'.
The objective of intervention is to protect the growers of fruits and vegetables from making distress sale due to the lockdown and reduce the post-harvest losses, it said.
More fruits and vegetables can be added in future on the basis of recommendation by the Ministry of Agriculture or state government, it added.
Currently, only three commodities -- tomato, onion and potato -- are covered under the scheme, which the Centre had recently said it will expand to all horticultural crops as part of the Rs 20 lakh crore Atma Nirbhar package to tackle the economic slump resulting from COVID-19 pandemic.
"While we are announcing this, we have already received over 100 applications online to avail the benefit under this scheme," Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said via video conference.
The Operation Greens, being implemented by the Food Processing Ministry, has been extended from tomato, onion and potato (TOP) crops to other notified horticulture crops for providing subsidy for their storage and transportation from surplus production areas to major consumption centres, she said.
Under the scheme, the government -- in a statement -- said the benefit has been extended to additional 10 fruits (Mango, Banana, Guava, Kiwi, Lichi, Papaya, Citrus, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Jackfruit) and 8 vegetables (French beans, Bitter Gourd, Brinjal, Capsicum, Carrot, Cauliflower, Chillies (Green) and Okra).
The scheme will be for the period of six months from the date of notification on June 11, 2020.
Food processors, farmer producers' organisations (FPOs), co-operative societies, individual farmers, licensed commission agent, exporters, state marketing/co-operative federation, retailers etc engaged in processing and marketing are eligible for the scheme.
Under the scheme, the ministry will provide subsidy up to 50 per cent of the cost of transportation of eligible crops from surplus production cluster to consumption centre and hiring of appropriate storage facilities for eligible crops for three months.
The subsidy claims will have to submit on portal https://www.sampada-mofpi.gov.in. The applicant should register on the portal before carrying out transportation/storage of fruits and vegetables.
Besides, the minister announced that a free skill training programme will be launched in the next two months for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes food processors. A three-month certificate course will provide training in 41 identified food processing topics.
The training will be conducted in collaboration with National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management - (NIFTEM) and Food Industry Capacity & Skill Initiative (FICSI). Once certified, these entrepreneurs would have better employment potential, or they can start their own venture.
The participant handbooks and the facilitator's guide created by the ministry through NIFTEM will be converted into e-learning format with suitable digital content and online assessment service, she said.
These will be made available in English, Hindi and other regional languages by FICSI on the web and on android-based app on mobiles, she added.