Foodtech gets a boost during Covid-19 crisis

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Published: June 29, 2020 1:30 AM

The FICSI also has private training providers under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), and has given this advisory to them.

For food processing as a sector, the timing of the Covid-19 was tough.For food processing as a sector, the timing of the Covid-19 was tough.

The Food Industry Capacity & Skill Initiative (FICSI), a Sector Skill Council for food processing, recently announced the launch of its Learning Management System (LMS) under the name ‘FICSI Online Training & Assessment Academy’, with an aim to provide skilling in food processing.

Sunil Marwah, the CEO of the FICSI, says that the idea predated the lockdown, but the lockdown expedited the process. “We are moving towards blended learning,” he says.

Food processing is a hands-on skill building exercise, so while the FICSI has created the classroom experience through digital learning content, for hands-on experience a person has to go to a lab or a factory or a training centre—let’s say for baking, etc. Marwah says FICSI is trying to reduce the exposure of a person to large group interfaces. “Going forward, we will reduce the batch size; earlier it was 30 students, now we will look at 20 or so once the lockdown is over,” he adds.

The FICSI also has private training providers under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), and has given this advisory to them.

For food processing as a sector, the timing of the Covid-19 was tough. “The agricultural cycle (rabi) was getting over, it was time to buy the raw material, but due to lockdown that procurement got impacted. Secondly, the stocks lying with the distributors were also stalled; still a lot of companies are struggling with trade receivables. Thirdly, people have move quickly towards staples such as daal (lentils) and aata (flour) instead of higher-end products, and the impulse purchase of items such as beverages and ice creams has reduced. Fourthly, hospitality contributes to about 40% of food processing, and a lot of that got impacted. Overall, it’s not a good scene,” Marwah says.

Going forward, the FICSI aims to help create more and more localised jobs. Small units such as baking bread can be set up with capital of just Rs 2-3 lakh, and that can cater to the local requirements so that a person can become self-sufficient. “Skilling of 75,000 people is on the cards,” he says. “In addition to baking, manufacturing of pickle, papad, jam, jelly, ketchup, etc, can be easily set up. The idea is to create livelihood.”

The FICSI is encouraging people to do home enterprises in certain areas, especially for those who have been laid-off and have some amount of capital but a lot of hesitation. “We have identified home baking as one area. It will be blended learning,” Marwah says. “Artisanal food and customisation of food is another promising area.”

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