Treat food processing at par with infrastructure: Sahay

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New Delhi,Nov 14 (UNI) Minister of State for Food Processing Subodh Kant Sahay today said his ministry was pushing for seven per cent rate of interest for food processing units and target a growth rate of ten per cent by the terminal year of the Eleventh Plan.

''Given the potential of this sector and the need to attract investors we are seeking an interest rate of seven per cent. In this connection, I have written to Finance Minister P Chidambaram,'' Mr Sahay said addressing the Economic Editors' Conference here.

He said the food processing sector which recorded a growth rate of six per cent last year, is likely to be seven per cent this fiscal.

The Minister said the food processing sector should be treated at par with infrastructure to give it a boost.

Mr Sahay said there has been a substantial enhancement in the Eleventh Plan outlay for the ministry from Rs 650 crore during the Tenth Plan to Rs 4,031 crore.

A National Wine Board and a National Meat and Poultry Processing Board will be set up by January 2008, he said.

The Minister said the sector has been attracting substantial FDI and is among the ten top sectors getting FDI equity. FDI up to 100 per cent equity is permitted under the automatic route in food and infrastructure like food parks and cold chains.

He said the concern of the government to protect the interests of small retailers and FDI in food retails, and also the farmers from the misuse of contract farming was being examined.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry have engaged an agency to make an indepth study on the impact of FDI in food retails on the domestic retailers. The report is likely to be published shortly.

The Agricultural Produce Marketing Act (APMC) is a major constraint in bringing the farmers closer to the market and in this regard appealed to the state governments to repeal the Act as earlier as possible.

He said the government was in the process of establishing 30 mega food parks in identified clusters, which will be pre-marketed and demand-driven with strong backward and forward integration.

UNI

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