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Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu today announced that the government was working on an agriculture export strategy that would give primacy to value addition and job creation. He emphasised on the potential of marine products export, for which the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) had been given specific targets for value added exports.
Inaugurating the 11th edition of ‘FICCI Foodworld India 2018’ on the theme ‘Capitalising Food Processing in the Digital Era’, Prabhu urged the food processing industry professionals to develop processed food items that appeal to the palates of the consumers in export markets. This segment needs to be exploited aggressively apart from exporting Indian food products for use by Indians overseas.
Processed, ready-to-eat food, produced under good regulation with regard to safety and standards, Prabhu said, was a great opportunity for the manufacturing sector with the attendant beneficial effect on downstream industries.
The union commerce minister also released a FICCI-YES BANK report on ‘Start-Ups: Transforming India’s Food Processing Economy’ on the occasion.
JP Meena, Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, pointed out that while the availability of credit to food processing units was a challenge, the government was looking at the feasibility of having sector-specific financial institutions to take care of the credit requirements. The government would look for partnerships with the industry to resolve the issue.
He said indigenous production of machinery and equipment required by the industry has remained a grey area. In this regard, industry should provide relevant inputs to R&D institutions so that mechanisation was in tune with the requirements. In packaging, the excessive reliance on the use of plastics was an area of concern, he said and added that the time was ripe to develop bio-degradable alternatives to plastics.
Ashish Bahuguna, Chairman, Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) assured industry that the spate of regulations on food standards and safety will abate in the next 6 to 12 months. Industry, he said, would be given ample time to align their products and processes seamlessly to the new standards.
He added the budget announcement on creating farmer producers’ organisations would go a long way in connecting with the farmers. The government, he said, would facilitate the aggregation of farmers and their linkage with food standards and government schemes.
Sanjay Sharma, Chair, FICCI Food Processing Committee, stressed that the food processing sector was today characterised by three major changes, namely, changing consumer tastes, digitalisation and availability of finance. The digital age, he said, would build the industry for the next big step.
The day-long convention witnessed a CEOs’ panel discussion on the growth and opportunity in food processing, digitalisation in food marketing, innovation and opportunities for food start-ups and building of consumer trust.
According to Rana Kapoor, MD & CEO, YES BANK, “India has developed a vibrant entrepreneurial landscape and steadfastly strengthened its position as the third largest start-up ecosystem globally. This is visible in our food processing sector and associated ecosystem, which has witnessed a wave of entrepreneurship with disruptive and futuristic ideas, especially in the last five years. Collaborations, linkages and partnerships among key stakeholders including start-ups, will help develop scalable future-ready solutions, supported by conducive government policies.”