Food processing includes the transformation of raw agriculture produce fresh from the fields into ready to fry or ready to eat food usually sold in packets and jars through various chemical and mechanical process. It is often seen as a potential “value addition” process. While India is leading in the production of fruits, vegetables, milk, and other agricultural commodities, the level of food processing is low in our country, mainly on account of the infrastructure and supply chain bottlenecks faced by the food processing industry. This leads to the wastage of the surplus yields.
The Government of India has taken the following policy initiatives to combat this problem:
- Mega food parks scheme – Launched in 2008 by the Ministry of Food Processing Industry, where the government bears the cost of building and developing modern infrastructure such as packing, labeling, weighing machines, etc. It reduces the initial setup investment for an individual company. There are a total of 42 food parks in India. Recently the Minister of Food Processing Industry Harsimrat Kaur Badal inaugurated Mizoram’s first Mega food park.
- Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampad Yojana – It is a Central Sector Scheme launched by MoFPI in 2017. Previously an umbrella Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters or SAMPADA, it aims at providing funds for the setting up of the cold chain infrastructure.
- Operation Greens – Money/subsidies were provided to the farmer self-help groups, food processing companies, etc. for processing, transportation, and cold storage of Tomatoes, Onions, and Potatoes TOP to ensure their year-round availability in the markets.
- Green revolution: Krishonnati Yojana – Implemented since 2016-2017, it targets at the integrated development of horticulture in India.
- Agri Export Policy 2018 by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry- Launched to help the exporters regarding sanitary and phytosanitary SPS issues via APEDA, FSSAI, and other bodies. This is done so that the exported products are not banned by the US/EU on the allegations of pesticide residue/pathogen contamination/fruit fly infestation. It reduces the cost of compliance for the food processing industry and focuses on branding, packaging, and marketing of Indian ethnic products e.g. canned Indian food like Sarson da saag, Makhana from Bihar, Agra petha, Hyderabadi biryani in overseas markets.
- Agriculture infrastructure fund in 2020– The new Central Sector Scheme is financing a sum of Rs.1 lakh crore for developing and enhancing the post-harvest infrastructure of our country.
The food processing industry can improve our country’s export income. If the farmer co-operatives and SHGs are involved in the value addition process, it will help farmers to double their income by 2022. So considering this food processing industry, the government has initiated appreciable schemes.