The Minister said her ministry will help identify food clusters across the country, adding that the food map will not only help identify strengths in terms of crop strength, production and processing, but also help the ministry to ensure the desired interventions to expand the Indian food export market and develop brand India.
The food processing ministry is working to devise new schemes to provide last mile delivery to farmers, which include ‘farm to shelf’ schemes like setting up mobile processing vans which could reach out to farmers, and setting up small food processing units providing business incubation, training and a processing centre at village level so that farmers’ produce is processed and reaches markets, Ms Kaur said.
Outlining the priorities for the ministry, the Minister mentioned that the needs of the hour are to curb food inflation by boosting food processing; to mitigate post-harvest fruit and vegetable losses; to drive and accelerate food processing industries growth; to de-regulate and simplify governmental systems, processes and clearances that delay food processing projects, causing huge losses to the companies putting up projects; and to review the role of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) regarding long delays in clearing product approvals.
“Given the inflationary pressure of deficient monsoons on perishables like horticulture, dairy, etc, supply chain management needs to be improved,” said Akshay Bector, Chairman, CII Northern Region Agr & Food Processsing committee and Managing Director for Bector's Food Specialties Limited.
Mr Bector emphasised the need to rejuvenate the mega food-park scheme and connecting directly with farmers to bridge the gap between wholesale and retail prices.
During the discussions with the minister, Piruz Khambatta, chairman, CII National Food Processing committee and Chairman & Managing Director of Rasna Pvt Ltd, suggested a deep dive into Gujarat model of agricultural growth, encouraging exports, rejuvenating mega food-park schemes, cold-chain development, growth oriented regulatory environment, and agricultural produce market committee (APMC) reforms, to take on inflationary challenges to the Indian economy.
The industry members also suggested the uniform implementation of the APMC Act across states, immediate de-listing of perishables from the APMC list and giving farmers the freedom to sell fresh, perishable produce directly to food processing companies, aggregators and retailers.