World Food India — a three-day event organised by the food processing ministry in the national capital — will see businesses signing memorandums of understanding worth $11 billion, the government said on Friday. Inaugurating the event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana, the flagship scheme of the food processing ministry, is expected to catalyse investments of $5 billion, benefit two million farmers and generate more than half a million jobs over the next three years, apart from creating world-class food processing infrastructure. As many as 60 top executives of large multi-national corporations — including Nestle chairman Paul Bulcke, Metro Cash and Carry chief executive Peter Boone, GSK Consumer Healthcare chief executive Brian J McNamara, Unilever (food) president Amanda Sourry and Sharafuddin Sharaf of Al-Sharaf Group — attended the event. Around 7,000 stakeholders from 60 nations, 8,000 exhibitors and 75 policy makers of various countries participated the first such event on food processing, food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said.
It will facilitate some 5,000 business-to-business and business-to-government meetings. The food processing ministry has already forecast FDI inflows of $10 billion into this sector over three years.
Sampada is an umbrella programme that has incorporated certain ongoing and new schemes and aims at the development of modern infrastructure to encourage entrepreneurs to set up food processing units
Stressing the scope for food processing, Modi said India is the world’s second-largest producer of rice, wheat, fish, fruits and vegetables and the largest producer of milk.
Its horticulture sector has shown an average growth rate of 5.5% annually over the last ten years, much higher than its overall farm and allied sector growth. The Prime Minister said increasing urbanisation and a growing middle class are driving up demand for processed food. Citing an example, Modi said over a million Indians travel by train everyday and are therefore potential customer of processed food.
Similarly, India is the world’s sixth-largest food and grocery market, worth over $600 billion, where demand for such items is expected to double in the next five years, Badal said. Since the country’s current processing level is just 10% of its production, there is immense scope for improvement.
The government has already allowed 100% foreign direct investment in trading (including through e-commerce) of food products produced or manufactured in India. However, a decision on whether to permit a certain percentage of non-food items, along with the food products, is pending.
Modi said through the creation of mega food parks, a key component of the Sampada scheme, the country aims to link agro-processing clusters with key production centres. This will offer immense value proposition in crops such as potato, pineapple, oranges and apples. Farmer groups are being encouraged to set up units in these parks, thereby reducing wastage and transportation costs, and creating new jobs. Nine such parks are already operational, and more than thirty others are in the process of coming up across India.