All food parks will be operational in next 3 years: Badal

All the 42 mega food parks sanctioned by the government will be fully operational in the next three years, Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said today.

"All our parks will be operational in next three years. Five parks are fully functional so far, of which the last three became commercial in the past one year, and rest of the parks are in various stages (of completion)," the Minister for Food Processing told reporters here at the World Packaging Congress.

Speaking about the food processing sector's potential to contribute to 'Make in India', she said, "the present government has brought freshness and thrust, with Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) pro-actively promoting Make in India."

"Several international delegations have been coming throughout the year to enquire about partnering with us.

"India is a young country, and the consumption is set to treble in the next few years. Forty per cent of the wallet is spent on food in the country.

"Compared to western countries where the market has stagnated, India has a huge potential," she added.

Several schemes including the Rs 2,000 crore corpus for cheaper loans through NABARD, subsidies to set up food parks, cold storages, abattoirs and 100 per cent foreign direct investment in food processing are expected to boost the sector, she added.

India is one of the largest producers of food globally, but despite having huge sources of raw material, only 10 per cent of the food is processed.

She pointed out that wastage at the harvest and transportation level is huge.

"Even on a conservative basis, I was shocked to find out that 20 per cent of fruits and vegetables are wasted and in monetary terms, at wholesale prices of 2014, it equals almost Rs 92,000 crore per annum," the minister said.

Badal further said food processing can significantly reduce wastage, generate employment, offer better prices to farmers and help in reducing food inflation.

The food processing ministry has also surveyed eight to nine of its sectors to assess the kind of labour required and how to provide appropriate skills.

She said the ministry is laying special emphasis on promoting value-addition at the farm-gate level, and is working towards helping youths turn entrepreneurs.

"We are encouraging value-addition and entrepreneurship at the farming level," Badal said.

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