New Delhi, Oct 14: With the aim to help farmers, the government will now provide a 50 per cent subsidy on the transportation cost of tomato, potato, banana and mango among other notified fruits and vegetables that will be carried by Kisan Rail trains from surplus production clusters to consumption centres.
Under the initiative titled ‘Operation Greens – TOP to Total,’ the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) has extended the Operation Greens Scheme from Tomato, Onion and Potato (TOP) to all fruits and vegetables (TOTAL) for a period of six months on a pilot basis as part the Centre’s Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
This subsidy can be availed by individual farmers, food processors, cooperative societies, retailers, state and cooperative marketing agencies till December 11.
In order to operate the scheme, the MoFPI will initially provide Rs 10 crore, which will be deposited with South Central Railway. Once this corpus has been utilised, Indian Railways will provide a Utilisation Certificate to MoFPI, which will provide additional funds to the railways.
On August 8, Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar flagged off the country’s first ‘Kisan Rail’ train from Deolali in Nashik to Danapur in Bihar.
With the current decision, the railways has asked its zones to extend a subsidy of 50 per cent on transportation of notified fruits and vegetables through Kisan Rail trains – with immediate effect.
The notified items include mango, banana, guava, papaya, citrus, pineapple, pomegranate and jack fruit in the fruits category and the list of vegetables include onion, potato, tomato, French beans, brinjal, capsicum, carrot, cauliflower and okra.
The Railways made the announcement on Tuesday, just a day before the fourth Kisan Rail train from Nagpur is scheduled for the flag off.
“Once this corpus has been utilised, Indian Railways will provide a Utilization Certificate to MoFPI, and MOFPI will provide additional funds to Railways. Zonal Railways are, therefore, requested to extend a subsidy of 50% on transportation of notified fruits and vegetables through Kisan Rail trains – with immediate effect,” the Railway ministry order issued on Tuesday said.
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced in May that ‘Operation Green’ will be expanded with an additional fund of Rs 500 crore and extended from tomatoes, onions and potatoes to all fruits and vegetables.
The government intervention is expected to protect the fruits and vegetables growers from making distress sale due to lockdown and reduce the post-harvest losses.
The Railways has announced to run more Kisan Rail trains as and when it receives requests from the state governments. Transportation of fruits and vegetables by train is cheaper than ferrying these produce by trucks and additional subsidy will make railways more attractive for transporting these perishable items.