The growing food processing sector is significantly contributing to the agricultural economy.
The strategic importance of the food processing sector to the economy can be gauged from the fact that the sector contributes as much as 11 per cent and 9 per cent of GDP in Agriculture and Manufacturing sectors respectively. During the past 5 years (ending 2012-13), food processing sector grew at 8.4% compared to 3.3% agricultural growth and 6.6 per cent manufacturing growth.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Honorable Minister, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, says much of the wastage in India takes place at the farming, harvesting and storage levels unlike in the West where it takes place on the plate.
She said that the vision of the Government is to ensure that India graduates from being the largest producer of food to processor of food. She particularly referred to the efforts made by the Ministry in sanctioning 42 Mega Food Parks, 30 Cold Chains and setting aside special funds to finance new ventures. To realize this vision, she urged the industry to come forward with inputs, collaborate with foreign players and partner with the government.
Piruz Khambatta, Chairman, CII National Food Processing Committee and Chairman & Managing Director, Rasna Pvt Ltd put forward the CII vision of realizing the potential of food processing in what it can do for rural India as IT has done for urban India.
The sector has enormous potential for creating export earnings provided it is given the right impetus in terms of policy and investment environment.
B Thiagarajan, Chairman, CII National Committee on State Level Coordination- Agriculture & Food Processing & President, Blue Star, reiterated the minister’s vision of including not just the farmer but his family in the process of development of the food processing and take forward this agenda in the work that CII is doing at the state level.
Mayank Jalan, Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Food Processing & Managing Director, Keventer Agro, mentioned that the industry will work with the government towards all inclusive growth of this sector.
A CII-Rabo Bank report on Importance of Food Processing sector envisages the role for food processing in employment generation, contribution to the overall GDP and controlling inflation, promoting value added exports, promoting ‘Make in India’ opportunity and enhancing nutritional security.
Rajesh Srivastava, Chairman, Regional Committee on Agriculture, Food and Water, CII Northern Region and Chairman and Managing Director, Rabo Equity Advisors pointed at the need for stepping up allocation to the food processing sector given that it is labor intensive and ahead of several other sector in value of output.
Srivastava put forward the idea of setting up a Food Processing Bank in India that will have the right skill set to evaluate food processing proposals and improve availability of finance.
Mr R S Sondhi, Managing Director, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. in his address during the Inaugural Session pointed out that there are important lessons from the dairy sector for other food processing sector. Demand for processing and packed foods will increase manifold over the years to come driven largely by rising income levels and changing lifestyles.