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Government to launch scheme to prevent distress sales

The government is likely to soon launch a Rs 500-crore programme that aims to end distress sales by farmers of tomato, onion and potato (TOP) crops.

The ministry of food processing Industries expects approval from the Standing FinanceNSE 1.60 % Committee for the Rs 500-crore Operations Greens scheme. Announced by the Finance minister in this year's budget, this programme intends to enhance farmers’ income, create integrated supply chains, and reduce price volatility.

“We are in the process of finalizing the scheme and will be placing it before the Standing Finance Committee. Once approved, it will be launched by July,” said Jagdish Prasad Meena, secretary, food processing ministry.

He said that the focus will be to intervene in top 10 major producing clusters for each crop. “This will lead to enhancement in the incomes of tomato, onion and potato farmers, capacity building of Farmers Producers Organisations, reduction in post-harvest losses, creation of processing infrastructureNSE 0.33 %, provision of agri-logistics for supply chain and reduction in price volatility of TOP for consumers," Meena said.

The ministry has circulated a note to agriculture ministry, finance ministry, Niti Aayog and commerce ministry. There are suggestions on factoring in seasonal and regional variation in production, bringing non-traditional area under TOP farming, and linking cultivation to primary processing.

The pattern of assistance has been proposed that 50% of the eligible project cost will be given, subject to a maximum of Rs 50 crore per project. Preference would be given to states that have implemented APMC reforms.

FPOs, cooperatives, companies, food processors, logistic operators, service providers, supply chain operators, retail and wholesale chains and central and state government entities could link up with farmers for quality production of crops, post-harvest processing facilities, storage and preservation facility, primary processing, agri-logistics and marketing support, he said. Financial assistance for production in TOP clusters would be provided under the Mission , said officials.