The Central government is looking to double food processing levels to 20 per cent by the end of its five-year term, Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said today.
“Once five years of this government are up, the food processing levels which are at 10 per cent should at least have reached 20 per cent,” Badal told reporters at the sidelines of a conference here.
“Having said that FDI (foreign direct investment) in multi-brand food retail has recently been cleared, fine tuning has been done, now we have to advertise this policy,” she added.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal also recently visited top retailers in the food business to invite and promote India as a destination for business.
“In my recent trip to the UK all top retailers in the food business including Sainsbury, Tesco, Harrods, Marks & Spencers, whoever was into food, evinced huge interest,” she said.
She, however, said that it was early days, and the ministry will target more countries, and retailers to invite them to conduct business here.
“It is premature to speak of MoUs, but all big retailers are looking at India positively, and are keen to get into India with joint ventures. They are also keen to source from India. I will go to all countries and push aggressively,” she said.
The Ministry is also planning to conduct a World Food festival in March next year, to showcase the entire farm-to-fork process, and invite global players to participate.
Pointing out that food processing is growing faster than our gross domestic product for the past few years, she said that tying up the retail side will help push the “much needed” infrastructure development.
“After the government has opened up multi-brand food food, we have to create infrastructure to bring down wastage. Thailand and Vietnam process 70-80 per cent of their food, whereas only 10 per cent of our food is processed. The opportunity for us is huge,” she said.
In the last three years, the government has announced Rs 2,000 crore to offer cheaper credit to set up food processing units, excise duties have been reduced, subsidies have been offered to set up food parks, and cold storage chains, she explained.
“We have already facilitated 20 cold storages, and a 100 more have expressed interest in setting up. We are creating a cold chain grid to reduce food wastage,” she said.
The government has also cleared 37 food parks, of which six have already been made operational and four more will be inaugurated this year, Badal said.
“All the 37 will be operational in 18-24 months,” she added.