In an effort to tame inflation and position India as the food factory to the world, Confederation of Indian Industry in partnership with Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India organised a Food Conclave in New Delhi today.
Addressing the Conclave, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister of Food Processing Industries highlighted the role of food processing sector in uplifting the state of farmers. She pointed out that much of the wastage in India takes place at the farming, harvesting and storage levels unlike in the West where it takes place on the plate. The minister mentioned that the vision of the Government is to ensure that India graduates from being the largest producer of food to processor of food. She referred to the efforts made by her ministry in sanctioning 42 Mega Food Parks, 30 Cold Chains and setting aside special funds to finance new ventures. To realise this vision, she urged the industry to come forward with inputs, collaborate with foreign players and partner with the government.
Speaking on the occasion, Piruz Khambatta, Chairman, CII National Food Processing Committee and Chairman & Managing Director, Rasna, put forward the CII vision of realising the potential of food processing in what it can do for rural India as IT has done for urban India.
The strategic importance of the food processing sector to the economy can be gauged from the fact that the sector contributes as much as 11 percent and 9 percent of GDP in agriculture and manufacturing sectors respectively. During the past 5 years, food processing sector grew at 8.4 percent compared to 3.3 percent agricultural growth and 6.6 percent manufacturing growth. Given the huge production base of the country, the sector is very well positioned to elevate the agricultural economy, raise farmer incomes, and generate employment. It has enormous potential for creating export earnings.
Addressing the conclave, Mayank Jalan, Managing Director, Keventer Agro acknowledged the continuous support of the ministry in championing the need for developing the food processing sector and being most receptive to industry views and inputs. He also mentioned that the industry will work with the government towards all inclusive growth of this sector
During the conclave, a CII-Rabo Bank report on Importance of Food Processing Sector was also released. The report envisages the role for food processing in employment generation, contribution to the overall GDP and controlling inflation, promoting value added exports, promoting ‘Make in India’ opportunity and enhancing nutritional security.
Rajesh Srivastava, Chairman and Managing Director, Rabo Equity Advisors put forward the idea of setting up a Food Processing Bank in India that will have the right skill set to evaluate food processing proposals and improve availability of finance.
In his address, RS Sondhi, Managing Director, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (Amul) pointed out that there are important lessons from the dairy sector for other food processing sector. Demand for processing and packaged foods will increase manifold over the years to come driven largely by rising income levels and changing lifestyles.
Speaking on taming food inflation, Dr Ashok Gulati, Infosys Chair Professor for Agriculture, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) pointed out that countries which have high processing levels are better able to tame food inflation. He gave the examples of certain Asian countries where processing is between 20 percent to 50 percent and about 70 percent in USA and European countries. He also mentioned the need for synergy between the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Processing Industries to ensure that processable varieties are made available and the right set of incentives are lined up to boost investment in the supply chain.