The Government of India is further coming with some great commitments in this area and welcoming 100 per cent FDI in the food processing sector. Now the time has come to ensure both volume and quality together to make our products globally competitive. And for this we need to increase the volume of activities to invite new markets, new products and new technologies, said Anita Praveen, Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India while speaking at a conference on ‘Agri, Food and Cold Chain – 2022’, organised by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi today.
The senior bureaucrat shared the government’s perspective on the agri-food sector. She mentioned that India had moved from deficit to surplus in food production, export and demand but now our focus should shift on food processing. By joining hands together, the food processing industry can reach great heights in the coming future, she added.
Ministry of Food Processing is running various schemes for boosting the sector such as PM Kisan Sampada Yojana and PLI which are the major fund allocators in the agribusiness industry to make the sector creditworthy, she said.
Addressing the conference, Kunal Gupta, Co-Chair, Food Processing Committee, PHDCCI highlighted that India’s agricultural sector was at crossroads, facing challenges of stagnation in crop yields, non-remunerative prices, falling crop incomes and tardy responses from public service systems. There are reports of peasant suicides due to the non-profitability of farming. The major blooming reasons for the processing industry in India may be attributed to the increasing urbanisation, change in lifestyle and food habits, and increasing number of nuclear families with working women.
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He mentioned that the major challenges faced by the industries may include lack of infrastructure, inadequate focus on food safety and quality standards, lack of product development and innovative research and development in this area which requires progressive work for growth.
Pradeep Multani, President, PHDCCI, briefed the conference about agriculture which is the primary source of livelihood for about 58 per cent of India’s population. Gross value added by agriculture, forestry, and fishing was estimated at Rs. 19.48 lakh crore (US$ 276.37 billion) in FY20. He talked about the Indian food industry which is poised for huge growth, increasing its contribution to world food trade every year due to its immense potential for value addition, particularly within the food processing industry. Indian food and grocery market is the world’s sixth largest, with retail contributing 70 per cent of the sales. As the 5th largest sector in India, food processing contributes about 9.5 per cent to GVA and 13 per cent to the employment of manufacturing segment, said Multani.
NK Agarwal, Chair, Agriculture Committee, PHDCCI and Chairman, Crystal Crop Protection said while appreciating the various schemes of the government, such as providing subsidies in fertilisers, deciding minimum support prices (MSPs) for crops (reviewing before every season) and e‐NAM (e-National Agriculture Market) procurement benefits, mentioned that yet the farmers in the country are facing severe distress. More focus on farm mechanisation, price assurance to further increase production, and assured income in the hands of farmers which in turn may benefit the economy by large. He added that improving agriculture contribution and output could become a growth engine for the Indian economy if the entire ecosystem is thought afresh as traditional systems have had a limited role in doubling farmers’ income.