Government and industry discuss ways to make food processing robust


The day-long event saw three power discussions on the topics- Opportunities in Food Processing, Food Safety and Quality Issues in Food Processing, and Issues of Marketing & Exports of Processed Foods

The first day of the Agro Food Processing Virtual Summit 2020, being held on 15 & 16 December, organised by Agrovision Foundation, MM Activ Sci-Tech Communications and Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), marked the esteemed presence of Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Tranport Highways and MSME, GoI and Narender Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture and Food Processing Industries, GoI, who voiced their views on the many shortcomings and opportunities that India particularly is faced with, in a bid to remain competitive in the global processed food market.

Gadkari urged Tomar to look at making farming more viable for the farmers by engaging in incentivising electricity for them as required for that of Cold storage needs and other farming-related purposes. As the food processing industry is massive-employment-creating one and also holds great demand from the consumer side, to bridge the supply-demand gap, Gadkari notes that India needs 500 food parks and not 37.

Tomar noted the points raised by Gadkari and assured that the same will be discussed through a joint conference to be arranged which will have key decision-makers from MoFPI to try and address the electricity-related and other apprehensions faced by the farmers. He adds, “Our country has small and marginalised farmers in the higher number who fail to seek benefits of the government schemes. However, FPO will bring some relief to them. If the warehouse, cold storage, etc., are placed closer to the farmers, it will help in their benefit. Our country is dependent on agriculture largely for which the village industry and agricultural sector need to be promoted more.”

The day-long event saw three power discussions on the topics- Opportunities in Food Processing, Food Safety and Quality Issues in Food Processing, and Issues of Marketing & Exports of Processed Foods, which saw the presence of who’s who of the food processing industry.

The first discussion moderated by Dr C D Mayee, Chairman – Advisory Council, Agrovision saw the panelists – Manoj Joshi, Additional Secretary, MOFPI; Dr S.K. Malhotra, Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture; Tarun Bajaj, Director APEDA, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA); Sanjay Singal, Chief Operating Officer -Dairy & Beverages, ITC; Dr Prabodh Halde, Head-Technical Regulatory Affairs, Marico; Prasad P, Vice President -FASAR – Food and Agribusiness Strategic Advisory and Research, Yes Bank; Dr M. R. Dinesh, Director, ICAR- IIHR Indian Institute of Horticulture Research. The speakers discussed how increasing the quality of raw food commodities can add value to the products as it increases the shelf life of processed foods. The major challenge remains the poor infrastructure in the country’s food supply chain resulting in major food wastage and hence losses.

On the heels of the recent honey adulteration report coming to the fore, the second panel discussion had the panelists discuss the role of food regulators and its dependence on more State and private food testing labs, given the fact that it is difficult for the watchdog as a single entity to keep a track of deliberate perpetrators in food adulteration and also to ride out contaminants from the food chain for the size of the country.

Dr Rubeena Shaheen, Director, Science & Standards, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI); Dr Raghaw Rao KSMS, Ex-Director, CFTRI; Shashikant Kekare, Joint Commissioner, Food & Drug Administration and Harinder Singh Oberoi, Head, Division of Post Harvest Technology and Agricultural Engineering, ICAR- IIHR Indian Institute of Horticulture Research, were a part of the discussion.

Dr M Angamuthu, IAS, Chairman, APEDA; Piruz Khambatta CMD, Rasna Group (Pioma Industries); Dr Rupinder Singh Sodhi Managing Director, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, (AMUL); Vinod Kumar Kaul, Executive Director, All India Rice Exporter Association; Khushwant Jain Chairman, Indian Oilseeds and Produce Export Promotion Council (IOPEPC); Sumana Sarkar, Assistant General Manager, Exim Bank, shed light on how India lacks to compete even with other developing countries despite being a key global exporter of raw food commodities, on the back of inconsistent quality standards, failing to create an internationally acclaimed brand and also falling prey to price competitiveness.




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