New food processing sector boost for India

New food processing sector boost for India

The Indian Government has unveiled proposals to double the size of its food processing industry within the next five years by increasing funding and improving technology and infrastructure in the sector. It has also ear-marked the sector as an engine for growth for the country’s economy.

The ambitious Vision 2015 plan aims to boost processing levels of perishable foods from its current level of 10 per cent to 20 per cent, and increasing value addition from 26 per cent to 35 per cent. It will also bid to see its share of global trade from 1.5 per cent to 3 per cent over the period. The document, released by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MFPI), outlines measures to “increase level of processing and to promote food processing industries to exploit both the domestic and international market potential for processed food products”, said a statement from the ministry.

The Government identified the reduction of perishable food spoilage, enhancement of value addition and extension of shelf—life as three major goals of the plan. It said it would continue financial initiatives and promotional activities to increase the number of food processing plants and the level of food-related infrastructure. Food processing minister Shri Subodh Kant Sahai said that over the past five years the processing level had almost doubled from 6 per cent to 10 per cent and that value addition had risen from 20 per cent to 26 per cent.

In a written answer to the lower house of the Indian Parliament, the Lok Sabha, Sahai highlighted the fruit and vegetable sector as one that highlighted the issues the plan sought to address. He stated the current processing level in this sector was estimated at just 2.2 per cent.

“The low level of fruit and vegetable processing is due to non-availability of processable varieties of raw materials at right quantity and quality, seasonable nature of industry, lack of adequate post-harvest infrastructure such as lack of cold chain facilities, and transportation, proper storage facilities,” he said.

The Indian Government has pin-pointed the food processing sector as an engine for growth for the country’s economy. It has introduced a number of initiatives and tax breaks to encourage expansion in the sector. An integrated strategy for promotion of agribusiness Vision, Strategy and Action Plan for the Food Processing Sector has also been approved by the Government.

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