Foreign direct investment in the food processing sector is expected to cross USD 1 billion in the next two years, helped by reforms in FDI space and streamlining of FSSAI regulations, Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has said.
Highlighting achievements of two years of the NDA government, Badal told PTI that her ministry has permitted development of 17 new food parks across the country and is making efforts to operationalise all 42 parks by 2019 that will help double processing level of fruits and vegetables to 20 per cent.
The ministry has also approved setting up of 30 new cold chains in the country. The government has announced 100 per cent FDI in marketing of food products produced and processed in India in this year’s Budget.
“From the very first day after assuming office, my aim was to carry out those reforms which promote investment in the food processing sector, raise farmers’ income and generate employment opportunities,” Badal told PTI.
Besides food parks, she said the rules and regulations of the food regulator FSSAI have been streamlined to boost food processing sector.
“I am quite confident that FDI inflows will cross USD 1 billion on the back of these two major reforms — streamlining of FSSAI norms and 100 per cent FDI in food processing,” Badal said.
The food processing sector has attracted USD 463 million worth of FDI during April-February of the last fiscal, she added.
According to Badal, growth of the food processing sector will help farmers get better price for their produce as well as lead to reduction in wastage and lower prices of fruits and vegetables.
“As of now, we only process 10 per cent of the our total production of fruits and vegetables, which the Narendra Modi government is working on to double to 20 per cent of the total output of these two commodities,” Badal added. To achieve this, the government has taken various steps to create infrastructure at the farm gate level. The ministry had allocated 17 food parks and about Rs 50 crore per food park will be given as grant.
“In the last two years, seven food parks have become operational while during the UPA’s 10-year tenure, only two parks were operationalised,” Badal averred, adding that the target is to operationalise all 42 mega food parks by 2019. The minister said once the processing level reaches 20 per cent, consumers would have the option of processed fruits and vegetables and that too at affordable prices.