In a push intended to produce a big jump in horticultural produce, the Centre on Friday said it was increasing the ambit of ‘Operation Greens’ from priority crops ‘TOP’ (tomato, onion and potato), to ‘Total’ (all fruits and vegetables) and also announced measures for beekeeping and promotion of herbal cultivation on 10 lakh hectares that include a corridor for medicinal plants along the Ganga.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government had allocated Rs 4,000 crore for promoting cultivation of herbal plants and there would be a network of regional ‘mandis’ for medicinal plants in the country. This plan (with a new target) will be implemented by the National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) which has already supported 2.25 lakh hectares under cultivation of medicinal plants.
The shift from ‘TOP to Total’ will widen the government’s ongoing ‘Operation Greens’ and is aimed at helping farmers who are
the mercy of the weather and markets and often have to opt for distress sale of their perishable fruits and vegetables. With an
allocation of Rs 500 crore, the government will launch a six-month pilot to expand this support from TOP to all horticultural
produce through subsidy on transportation and storage, including cold chains.
“This will lead to Rs 5,000 crore income generation for farmers,” minister of state for finance Anurag Thakur said, and referred
to renewed interests of researchers on medicinal plants in their efforts to find solutions to deal with Covid-19.
“The move will help in better price realisation to farmers, reduced wastage and ensure affordability of horticultural produce for
consumers,” Thakur added.
Under a Rs 500 crore scheme to promote beekeeping, the government will focus on infrastructure development related to
integrated beekeeping development centres and post-harvest facilities.
“This will lead to increase in income for 2 lakh beekeepers and ensure quality honey to consumers,” Thakur said.