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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman rolls out a Rs 10,000 crore scheme for food processing sector



NEW DELHI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman rolled out a scheme, to help micro food enterprises, farmer producer’s organisations, self-help groups and cooperatives. This comes after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced massive government support to sections of industries and economy on Tuesday.

Scheme worth Rs 10,000 crore will be implemented on the lines of Prime Minister’s vision of ‘vocal for local with global outreach’, to help two lakh micro food enterprises (MFE); improved health and safety standards, integration with retail markets and improved incomes to be key focus areas, said the minister.

Unorganised MFEs units need technical up-gradation to attain (FSSAI) food standards, build brands and marketing, said Sitharaman on Friday.

There are about 25 lakh unregistered food processing enterprises which constitute 98% of the sector and are unorganized and informal. Nearly 66 % of these units are located in rural areas and about 80% of them are family-based enterprises.

She said that the focus will be cluster based approach with focus on perishables like makhana cluster in Bihar, mango in Uttar Pradesh, kesar in Jammu and Kashmir, bamboo shoots in north east, chili in Andhra Pradesh and Tapioca in Tamil Nadu.

Government is aiming to improve health and safety standards, integrate with retail markets better and improve income. This will also help in reaching untapped export markets in view of improved health consciousness, she said.

Strengthening this segment will lead to reduction in wastage, creation of off-farm job opportunities and aid in achieving the overeaching Government objective of doubling farmers’ income.

The cost of the scheme will be shared by the centre and states at 60:40 ratio, said a government official. The micro-enterprises will be assisted with credit linked subsidy and the scheme will be implemented over a five year period from 2020-21 to 2024-25.The micro enterprises with investment in plant and machinery up to Rs 25 lakh will get credit linked subsidy at 35% of the project cost with ceiling of Rs 10 lakh, he said. The beneficiary contribution will be minimum 10% and balance from loan.

The food processing sector faces a number of challenges including the inability to access credit, high cost of institutional credit, lack of access to modern technology, inability to integrate with the food supply chain and compliance with the health &safety standards, said the official.

Source :economictimes

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