The Ministry of Food Processing Industries is working on launching a new scheme which will focus on offering loans to small and cottage food processors in the unorganised sector to enable them to upgrade their technology and skills, and to get integrated with the organised sector.
In a televised message at the BL Agri Summit on Friday, Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsmirat Kaur Badal stated that India has the potential to become the food factory for the world in the coming years, and enhancing capacities of food preservation and processing can go a long way in increasing the income of the country’s farmers. She said that the Ministry of Food Processing has taken several measures over the past six years to realise the vision of PM Narendra Modi to double farmers’ income by 2022.
Talking about the new scheme, Badal said, “While food processing industry is one of the largest generators of employment, nearly 80 per cent of the processing industry is still unorganised. We are working towards a new scheme targeted at these micro and cottage food processors and rural women who are processing products like pappad, chutney, and achaar, among others, through small operations out of their homes. We plan to offer them loans so that they can upgrade their technology, enhance their skills and improve the food safety standards of their products and get integrated with the organised sector.”
“India is the largest producer of food in the world. But our processing is at a nascent stage, as we process only 10 per cent of what we produce. Hence, there is a very high level of wastage, which leads to consumer prices shooting up on one hand and farmers not getting their due on the other. Therefore, the Ministry has been working tirelessly for the last six years for creating infrastructure for food processing and preservation, so farmers can realise full value of their crops,” Badal added.
In a bid to enable farmers to earn higher income through value-addition to their agri produce, the Ministry is also focusing on creating the necessary infrastructure, offering guidance and subsidies to support farmers in this direction as well as to connect them with relevant markets , the Union Minister added.
“For creation of relevant markets, we decided to allow 100 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail for food which is produced or manufactured in India. To attract global food giants to look at sourcing from India, the Ministry organised the World Food India in 2017. It has been a turning point for attracting FDI in the food processing sector and FDI in food processing sector has nearly doubled to $913 million,” Badal emphasised.
Under the flagship scheme, PM Kisan Sampada Yojana, nearly ₹6,000 crore has been sanctioned to create infrastructure to improve agricultural productivity and nearly 800 units of infrastructure are in the process of being set up over the next two-three years to ensure adequate capacity is created for food processing and preservation.
“Several other measures have been taken to boost the food processing sector including creation of a corpus of ₹2,000 crore under NABARD to offer credit through NABARD at cheaper rates to food processing units in designated Food Parks,” Badal added.