Indian Food Processing Industries Minister Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal recently chaired the 2nd series of Food Processing Edition and advised all investors to look at the low-hanging Ready to Eat (RTE) segment as a potential opportunity.
The forum witnessed participation from the senior-most policymakers from both central and 6 state governments – Gujarat, Bihar, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra. More than 190 companies from 19 nations also took part in the forum.
Thanking the food industry for their remarkable effort, Union Minister said that the nationwide lockdown was successful as the government left no stone unturned to make essentials especially food available at every corner of the country since the beginning.
Union Minister was of the opinion that the challenges caused by COVID-19 outbreak needed to be converted into opportunities by establishing new normal in the food industry.
Smt. Badal requested all participants to follow the clarion call of Prime Minister Modi to become ‘Atma Nirbhar’ and ‘be vocal for local’. New countries are looking at India as sourcing hub as compared to the traditional ones from where these were importing earlier. Hence, it is time to ensure that the industry works at its full potential. Smt. Badal shared an example of one of Ministry funded cold chain getting orders of fruits & vegetables from new geographies.
She mentioned that the Superfoods of India need to be highlighted to the western world and advised states to share the most popular and nutritious local food which could be marketed through big retailers in foreign countries to target Indian diaspora.
Union Minister talked about the importance of modern technology for creating an aggregation portal at the national level for monitoring pan India inventory of agri-food products which would not only help the industry in sourcing but also help in boosting exports.
She mentioned that over 70% of the total employment in food processing was in the unorganized segment, while 60% of the 25 lakh units were in rural areas and 80% of these were family-owned. This segment alone could be the future of ‘Self-Reliant India’ (Atmanirbhar Bharat) and could make the initiative successful.
The minister pointed the agri-food segment as the champion sector in getting huge thrust in the relief packages announced by the Indian government recently. She also urged the state governments to reduce power rates for the food processing industry.
Significant aspects for investment decisions, including industrial zones, infrastructure capabilities, special investor facilitation services were discussed at the Forum in order to make India the next Global Investments hub.