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Union Food Processing Industries Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the central government is focusing on boosting the food processing sector so that the agriculture sector in the country grows exponentially.
To address challenges of insufficient infrastructure leading to huge wastage of agricultural produce and the resultant advantage to middlemen at the cost of farmers' remuneration, the government's focus is on compressing supply chains and make them consistent, quicker and efficient for supply of farm produce for food processing, she said, according to an official statement.
The government is focusing on creating a cold chain infrastructure to link the farmer to the consumer seamlessly and creating a cold chain grid in the entire country.
"The ministry has identified creation of modern infrastructure for food processing as a focus area and encouraging private investment. Sanctioning of 17 new Mega Food Parks and 30 Cold Chain projects will attract total investment of about Rs 3,077 crore in the creation of infrastructure in food processing sector," she said.
A total of 138 integrated cold chain projects were approved by the government, out of which 108 projects are under the implementation by the ministry.
"Of these, 52 projects have already achieved completion and commenced commercial operation. The capacity created by these 52 projects is 2.16 lakh MT of cold storage/CA (controlled atmosphere)/deep freezer, 80.3 lakh litres per day of milk processing, 38.5 MT/Hour of individual quick freeze (IQF) and 271 of reefer transport," the statement said.
It is expected that operationalisation of 108 projects would create capacity of 3.64 lakh MT of cold storage, (CA)/modified atmosphere (MA) storage, deep freezer, 90 MT per hour of IQF and 106.95 lakh litres per day of milk processing and storage, as well as creation of 601 reefer carriers.
The minister said the government has already set up a fund of Rs.2,000 crore under NABARD for extending affordable credit to entrepreneurs for designated food parks and for setting up of food processing units there, while loans to food and agro-based processing units and cold chains have been classified under agriculture activities for priority sector lending.