The Union Minister for Food Processing Industries, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, said the food processing industry holds tremendous potential to grow in India in view of the very low level of processing at present.
Inaugurating the one-day conference on ‘Agriculture and Food Processing’ organized by MM Activ Sci-Tech Communications at Reshimbaug ground in Nagpur on December 6 as a part of 6th Agrovision, the minister said the government has given necessary importance and focus to the food processing industry and the ministry has launched various schemes for the promotion of food processing industry.
The minister said, out of 17 Mega Food Projects that have received approvals, organizations from Maharashtra have submitted expression of interest for the four parks and one of them is in Wardha region. Referring to the problem of mal nutrition, she said that in food processing, food can be fortified and it could be ensured that healthy, affordable and regular food was available to all.
The minister further said with the processing of food, farmers will get assured market and better price for their produce, the food prices will not grow controlling the food inflation and unemployed youths could get jobs. She said that even without incentives food processing industry registered 8.4% growth rate and that shows the potential for growth of food processing sector in India.
Nitin Gadkari, Chief Patron, Agrovision and Minister for Road Transport and Highways; Shipping, said that the main problem for running storage systems is non-availability of power in rural areas in many states, including Maharashtra for long hours. As a solution to this problem, he suggested that financial assistance should be given for solar energy based small cooling systems. He also suggested to prepare schemes for establishing storage system in each district, particularly for onion, potato and tomato.
He said his ministry will develop the road networks connecting rural areas to the cities in a big way in next five years. That will help in faster transportation of perishable goods. He also suggested that farmers’ cooperative should be encouraged to set up fruits and fruit juice stalls on railway stations and bus stands.
S Tota Singh, Agriculture minister of Punjab, said with only 1.5% of the total land of the state under agriculture, Punjab was contributing 45% wheat and 40% rice of the central pool. He suggested that a better road network should be created for faster transportation of food. He requested the Food Processing Minister to give assistance to re-start the food processing units.
Dr V. Prakash, FRSC, Distinguished Scientist of CSIR – India and Vice President, International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS), suggested to follow the milk model to replicate it for different commodities. Like milk we need one more Kurien, father of milk revolution in India, for each fruits and vegetable.
Ernest Rwamucyo, High Commissioner of the Republic of Rawanda, gave information about the opportunities for food processing industry in Rawanda.
Technical sessions were held on ‘Policy initiatives in the agri & food processing sector – incentives available under different schemes of Government of India’, ‘Highlighting sector opportunities in agriculture & food processing’.
Among those who made presentations included Dr U Venkateswarlu, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI), Government of India, Dr SK Goel, Additional Chief Secretary (Agri & Marketing), Maharashtra, Dr MS Ladaniya, Director, National Research Centre for Citrus, Dinesh Waghmare, Managing Director, Maharashtra Agro Industries Development Corporation Ltd., Dr RD Kokane, Vice – Chairman, Indian Dairy Association (West Zone), Dr RK Malik, Joint Director (Research), National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) and Sumit Arora, Principal Scientist, NDRI.
In his opening remarks, Dr CD Mayee, Chairman, Advisory Council – Agrovision, suggested that if a new agriculture university was to be set up now, it should be set up only in villages and it should have courses on technology, processing and marketing. Ravi Boratkar, Organising Secretary, Agrovision, welcomed the guests and delegates.