‘GoI may take up ‘Operation Green’ scheme today’

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NEW DELHI: The Indian Cabinet is likely to consider on Wednesday (today) a proposal to launch a new scheme ‘Operation Green’ with a corpus of Rs 500 crore to aid farmers in times of erratic price fluctuation in tomatoes, onions and potatoes, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said Tuesday.
Another cabinet proposal to set up a non-banking financial company (NBFC) with an initial corpus of Rs 2,000 crore to meet credit needs of the food processing sector is expected to be taken up in the next week, she said.
“We are seeking cabinet approval for two schemes. I feel the TOP (tomatoes, onions and potatoes) scheme may be taken up in the tomorrow’s cabinet meeting. The NBFC proposal may come up next week,” Badal said on the sidelines of a CII event.
The Operation Green or the TOP Scheme is a simple scheme, announced in this year’s Budget, will be implemented on a pilot basis for two years after the Cabinet nod, she said.
Elaborating further, Badal while addressing the event said that the TOP scheme will focus only on three produce tomatoes, onions and potatoes. Three clusters for each produce have already been identified.
The clusters will be linked directly to the markets. The state governments will be roped in. The subsidy will be given for setting up of storage facility near the consumption centres, she said.
The idea is to move the produce to a consumption base during glut and before the prices fall and affect farmers income, she added.
The Operation Greens aims to promote farmer producers organisations, agri-logistics, processing facilities and professional management.
With regard to the proposed NBFC, the minister said, “We are in the final stage of the proposal and it will come most probably in next cabinet meeting”.
“We will roll out our own financial institution which will not only lend to food processing sector but will also work in different ways in capacity building, in risk assessment and senstising the banks.”
The proposed NBFC will be set up with an intial corpus of Rs 2,000 crore and the government will invest Rs 400 crore in it, she said, adding that partners will be roped in through the bidding process.
Asserting that the NDA government has focused a lot on food processing sector, the minister quoting the industry sources said that the level of food wastage has come down by up to 8 per cent on account of several steps taken over last four years.
Mega food parks, backward and forward linkages and clusters are being created under the Rs 6,000 crore Pradhan Mantri SAMPADA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) Yojana, she said.