Food Processing Minister Pashupati Kumar Paras stressed on increasing the level of food processing in India from existing 10 per cent to boost farmers’ income. Addressing a virtual conference organized by industry body Assocham, the minister highlighted that the food processing industry has always been the “engine of growth for the Indian economy”.
“India’s food processing sector is one of the largest in the world and its output is expected to reach $ 535 billion by 2025-26,” Paras said. The food processing sector contributes 12.8 per cent to the Indian GDP and provides, directly and indirectly, huge employment, he added.
Pointing out that India’s current overall level of food processing is just 10 per cent, Paras said the processing level needs to be increased to capture market opportunities and improve income for farmers.
The minister highlighted that the government in the last seven years has taken several measures to boost processing level and grow this sector. Under PMKSY (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojna), he mentioned that 42 Mega Food Parks, 353 Cold Chain projects, 63 Agro-Processing Clusters, 292 Food Processing Units, 62 Creation of Backward & Forward Linkages Projects and 6 Operation Green projects across the country have been approved.
The minister said food processing has an important role to play in linking Indian farmers to consumers in the domestic and international markets. Highlighting the importance of this sector, Paras said the Indian food and grocery market is the world’s sixth-largest, with retail contributing 70 per cent of the sales.
The food processing industry accounts for 32 per cent of the country’s total food market and is ranked fifth in terms of production, consumption, export, and expected growth, he added. The food processing sector in India has received around USD 7.54 billion worth of FDI during the period April 2000-March 2017. Paras pointed out that the food processing industry faced various challenges during the pandemic such as shortage of labour, supply chain gaps due to lockdowns. The sector’s policy measures have shifted the focus from livelihood to processing, distribution, and marketing, he added.