Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal urged the Prime Minister for allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail for food items grown and processed within India, at an ASSOCHAM event in New Delhi.
“I have requested the Prime Minister that we must allow FDI in multi-brand retail of food which is grown and processed in India because it will give the push and the thrust to create that infrastructure which will help the industry prosper,” said Badal while inaugurating ‘8th Global Food Processing Summit’ organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
“This is in the interest of both consumers and farmers as it will bring down food inflation create more jobs and lead to rapid infrastructure development,” said Badal.
“FDI in multi-brand retail has come in food sector in our country, for example in my state Punjab it has been done, it has benefitted everybody, there is no trader in the middle who has lost out, there is no farmer who has lost, no industry has lost out, so it has been a win-win situation and it has been a tried and tested formula,” she added.
“The globally established brands and multi-national companies will promote technology transfer, something which has been missing in India due to lack of infrastructure,” further said Badal.
“There is an urgent need to promote policies and create conducive environment where food processing sector can flourish,” she said.
Terming food processing as a ‘sunrise sector’, the union minister said it is imperative to lay focus on this sector to improve farmers’ condition across India. “It will help benefit the consumer by reducing inflation, reduce wastage, increase availability of fresh and processed variety of food at a stable price, improve farming technology.”
“As food processing sector grows it will lead to increase in demand for farmer’s produce, besides, things like technology transfer, imparting technical know-how and promoting usage of better seeds can further help in uplifting the standard of farmers in the country,” said Badal.
She also said that growth of food processing sector can help reduce food wastage and generate employment in large numbers. “Food processing sector can play a catalytic role of uplifting the farmers, controlling inflation, providing safe and healthy food, address malnutrition needs and ensure nation’s food security.”
Talking about setting up mega food parks in the country, Ms Badal said “The previous government had operationalised only 2 of the total 42 food parks in six years, we had operationalised three mega food parks in first year of our government, we plan to operationalise two mega food parks within February this year and two more before March.”
She said that all in all four mega food parks would be operationalised this year and the government has also planned to operationalise 4-5 mega food parks next year as well.
Badal also said that considering almost 16 per cent of farm produce worth over Rs 92,000 crore gets wasted largely due to lack of infrastructure, it is imperative for the government to make demand-driven agricultural policies and put requisite infrastructure in place.