Food processing to generate employment more than IT sector: Sahai

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Panaji, Aug 9 (UNI) Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahai today said the ministry was going the whole hog to ''energise'' the food processing sector in the 11th plan period as it was poised to generate employment 2.5 times more than the Information Technology sector.

Interacting with mediapersons after addressing the investors' meet in food, fish and marine processing sectors here, Mr Sahai said he envisaged tremendous investment in the sector during this plan period, with the ministry coming out with various attractive schemes to pep up the industry.

Tapping the full potential of the sector, the minister said India could become a leading food supplier to the world, where the consumer spends 49 per cent of the expenditure on food alone.

The current food consumption in India is estimated at Rs 8,60,000 crore per annum and the processing food accounts for Rs 4,60,000 crore. This includes Rs 2,80,000 crore on primary processed foods like the packaged fruits and vegetables and packed milk.

But unfortunately, about one-third of the raw food generated including perishables had been wasted with adequate provisions for storage and processing available in the country, he regretted.

The Centre, he said, has prepared an action plan to implement its Vision 2015 document aimed at integrating the food processing infrastructure from farm to market, having a transparent and industry friendly regulatory regime and putting in place a transparent system of science-based standards.

The ministry, he said, has envisaged increase in level of processing of perishables from 6 to 20 per cent, value addition from 20 to 35 per cent and share in global food trade from 1.5 per cent to 3 per cent.

The initiatives to achieve this ambitious target includes encouraging setting up of cold storage chains with forward and backward linkages with collection/aggregation centres and strategic distribution centres and opening of mega food parks that serve as defined agri/horticultural processing zones.

Modernisation of existing abattoirs and opening of 100 more through public-private-partnership mode and capacity building for quality assurance and R &D to support Food Safety and Standards Act and upgradation of quality of street food through training and financial assistance, were other measures.

Food streets with common infrastructure facilities were aimed at popularising Indian ethnic cuisine and boosting tourism, he added.

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