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India’s food processing to grow by 6% in 100 days

India’s Minister for Food Processing Industries, Subodh Kant Sahai, has said that the growth rate of India’s food processing sector would be brought up to a minimum of 20% from the current 14% within 100 days of the new United Progressive Alliance government taking charge.

Sahai, who retained the portfolio after being elevated to cabinet rank, spoke to the reporters after assuming office last Friday.

“This [Food Processing] was the only sector where people did not lose jobs in the midst of the global financial crisis. We will continue our work to meet the target investment of Rs 1 lakh crore ($21 billion) we had set to attract in the food processing sector by 2015,” Sahai said.

The minister also spoke about industrialising India’s massive rural agricultural sector.

“Agriculture has grown in many parts of the world. In the US, only 4% of the population is involved in agriculture and they claim to be feeding the world, whereas in Europe it is 7%.

“Here, 70% of the population is involved in agriculture but it fragmented. It is not clustered. It will be clustered only when there is market-driven farming. And market-driven farming will happen only when there is industrialisation of agricultural produce.”

Sahai also said that his ministry was progressing with infrastructure plans for streamlining the sector.

“Some infrastructure projects have to be launched and for some, a roadmap has to be created. We also have to look at government policies that are investor-friendly. It is all about industrialisation of the rural sector.”

According to the India Food Report 2008 prepared by Research and Markets, the Indian food industry is estimated at over $182 billion, accounting for about two-thirds of the country’s total retail sector.

But India’s share in exports of processed food in the global market is just 1.5% at $3.2 billion.

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