Formulate new industrial policy in food processing sector: Sahay

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 3 (UNI) Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahay today asked the Kerala Government to formulate a 'new industrial policy' to tap the vast potential in the food processing sector.

Talking to newspersons here, he said the government should reduce the VAT on perishable items to promote the industry and to help farmers.

Mr Sahay said the government should also promote cluster, cooperative or contract system of farming to safeguard the farmers in the state.

While cultivating independently in small-fragmented plots, the farmers would not get better returns. But, benefits would be higher if cultivated in a cooperative or contract system, he noted.

Pointing out that the '13 per cent growth' attained by the food processing industry in the country showed its vast potential, he said ''if planned well, the state could succeed in agriculture sector like the tourism sector.'' The Minister said the government would consider the year 2008 as 'Food Technology Year' and said the Centre would grant Rs 50 crore to the State for setting up a Megha Food Park, in Wayanad district.

''The Centre is willing to extend cent per cent assistance to the State for setting up Research and Development centres and quality assessment laboratory related to food processing.'' At national level, a good quality standard organision would be set up shortly and by 2015, the Centre envisaged to invest Rs 1,000 crore in the food processing industry, he said.

Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem, who was present, said the performance of the food processing industry in the state was well ahead of the national average.

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