1.National Food Processing Policy
Keeping in mind the higher rate of inflation and the increasing wastage of perishables, the ministry of food processing industries (MoFPI) is planning a new food processing policy for the country. Food processing industries minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, minister, said that the new policy was aimed at integrating the ministry’s schemes better.
The policy, called the National Food Processing Policy, is, however, in its incubation period currently.It would be some kind of policy to curb the wastage of the food, reduce inflation and create the required infrastructure. To sustain the policy, the focus should be on the latter which would integrate such schemes as cold chains, mega food parks and food grids under one roof. As far as inflation is concerned, the ministry is focussing on the most-consumed items. The targets are the top three commodities, including onions and tomatoes.
It is aimed at identifying the producing regions to find out the requisite infrastructure, take corrective action, and check whether it has made any difference to the situation or not. Other schemes being formulated by the ministry include the cluster development scheme for processing and higher assistance for fruit and vegetables, and the Cold Chain Grid wherein the cold chains would be linked with logistics.
We are the second-largest producer of fruit and cereal, third in marine production, and have the most livestock in the world. But despite the growth in these sectors, the disparity in the food processing sector’s growth is amazing. The biggest challenge the industry is facing is power, without which the cold chain cannot be successful. States need to invest in renewable energy and provide solar energy at subsidised rates.
Currently, wastage is worth approximately Rs 44,000 crore, and unless we work towards eliminating that, our growth story cannot be completed. The cold chain capacity of the country is 30 million metric tonnes, whereas it produces around 200 million metric tonnes of products. Citing examples of smaller countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, in these nations, about 80-90 per cent of the food is processed. But in India, it’s a mere ten per cent. Our challenge lies in managing the perishables.
What we need is a cold chain grid in the country. The ministry is working towards a national food processing policy to bring under one umbrella the different stakeholders presently engaged in the development of the food processing sector. Unless we reduce the wastage, we cannot control inflation. The cold chain industry in India is growing, and would treble in size by 2015. This change is the consequence of rapid changes in consumption patterns, and is, in turn, fuelled by modern trade and the growing food, dairy and pharmaceutical industries in India.
But India’s greatest need is for an effective and economically-viable cold chain solution that would totally integrate the supply chain for all commodities from the production centres to the consumption centres, thereby reducing the physical waste and the loss of value of perishable commodities. Innovation and integration is required to have a business model. The country needs to be connected with the flow of goods. It is only with the regular sustained supply of goods that the government can reduce the price fluctuations,” he added.