Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today exhorted global as well as domestic companies to invest in the food sector, saying that it has the potential to become a principal industry. Addressing business leaders at the World Food India event here, he said that as the economy grows it will impact the lifestyles of people and the food industry would be a major beneficiary this change. “Therefore, what happens to the traditional concept of agriculture and the farm-to-the-kitchen relationship will undergo a change. It’s already visible in large part of urban India,” he said. He also stressed upon the need to increase farm productivity, improve storage facilities and spur food processing activity. The current infrastructure is not sufficient to meet the future demand and there is need to add capacity as population would not only grow but also become richer with increase in GDP, Jaitley said. He said the most sensible investor is the one who doesn’t look at what India is in 2017, but what it will be in 2040 and 2050. “I think, in 2017, we should start thinking of this group in 2040 and 2050. If we keep that in mind, this is going to be one industry which is going to be one of principal industries as far as India is concerned,” he added.
He also assured investors that the country will not shy away from taking tough decisions in the long term interest of the economy. India has displayed a great capacity to take difficult decisions, he said, citing examples like demonetisation and implementation of Goods and Services Tax. “India is willing for a change. India is changing… Not only are our doors open, those who come in they get red carpet. The experience of our investors has been, they have always gone back as happy investors. I am sure those who enter the sector they will also have the same experience,” he said.
On infrastructure development, Jaitley said the government has undertaken many initiatives like construction of 250 highways, addition of 35-40 new airports and modernisation of 400 railway stations. Food Processing Industries Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the government has initiated various reforms in the sector. Some other reforms are also underway, she said, adding that there is a proposal for setting up of a Food Processing Bank.