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Fruits of Hard Work for Northeast Farmers – A Story of Expanding Markets

Northeast farmers

In a move that will greatly help farmers of hilly regions, 50% transportation subsidy is now made available for air transportation for 41 notified fruits and vegetables from North-Eastern and Himalayan States to any place in India. Airlines will provide the transport subsidy directly to the supplier/consignor/consignee/agent by way of charging only 50% of the actual contracted freight charges and will claim the balance 50% from the Ministry of Food Processing Industry as subsidy.

The transportation subsidy was earlier extended under Operation Greens Scheme for Kisan Rail Scheme. Railways charge only 50% of freight charges on the notified fruits and vegetables.

Eligibility for the Scheme

There are 21 varieties of fruits and 20 varieties of vegetables eligible for subsidy. While under the fruit category Mango, Banana, Guava, Kiwi, Litchi, Mousambi, Orange, Kinnow, Lime, Lemon, Papaya, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Jackfruit, Apple, Almond, Aonla, Passion fruit, Pear, Sweet Potato, Chikoo are getting this benefit, French beans, Bitter Gourd, Brinjal, Capsicum, Carrot, Cauliflower, Chillies (Green), Okra, Cucumber, Peas, Garlic, Onion, Potato, Tomato, Large Cardamon, Pumpkin, Ginger, Cabbage, Squash and Turmeric (dry) have become eligible in the vegetable category.

All the airports in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim (Bagdogra), and Tripura from North-East, and Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh among the Hilly States.

Other Efforts to Make Use of the Fruit Bowl

When it comes to Northeast, the Modi government is exploring all the ways to ensure competitive market for fruits and other farm products from the region. One recent effort underway is to promote Kiwi fruits from the Northeast.

India currently imports 4,000 tonnes of Kiwis from New Zealand, Italy and Chile. India is producing 13,000 MT of Kiwi in an area of about 4,000 Ha in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Himachal Pradesh. There are efforts underway to expand the cultivation area and provide research help to further strengthen the position of Northeast in Kiwi production. A farm to fork value chain creation is evolving by taking all the stakeholders onboard.

Creation of International Market

Post-2014, various measures by the government have helped Northeastern regions to explore the international market, especially in the fruits segment.

In an earlier piece it was explained how India is facilitating Act East in farm produce marketing by holding Buyer-Seller Meets in Northeastern states to connect them with neighbouring countries.

A glance at various media reports narrates the story of exploration of international markets by the Northeast states.

In Farming, Exploring New Frontiers

If all these examples are about expanding the market for Northeastern farm products, efforts are also being taken in trying new possibilities of farming. Saffron farming which is limited to couple of places in J&K is now being extended to Sikkim. Plants from seeds transported from Kashmir to Sikkim and acclimatized there are now flowering in Yangyang in the Southern part of the Sikkim.

In India, the annual demand for Saffron spice is 100 tons per year but its average production is about 6-7 tons per year. Hence a large amount of Saffron is being imported. Now, efforts are underway to change this situation.

 

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