Bangalore, Nov 27 (IANS) About 30 mega food parks are being set up across India to attract investments in the processing sector, minimise wastage and optimise production for domestic and export markets, an official said Tuesday.
"Of the 30 mega food parks, 13 have been given final approval and seven of them are at advanced stage of implementation in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Karnataka, Punjab, Tripura and West Bengal," Food Processing Industries Secretary Rakesh Kacker said at a day−long summit on the sector here.
Of the remaining 17 projects, 15 were accorded in−principal approval in September while two are yet to complete formalities for final approval.
Under the 12th Five Year Plan, the ministry has launched the national mission for food processing in April in cooperation with state governments to ensure better outreach of various schemes chalked out for the sector.
"As the food processing sector has emerged as the fastest growing sub−sector of the manufacturing sector during last fiscal (2011−12), the units being set up in the mega parks will be provided basic infrastructure such as warehouses, storage facility, testing labs and fruit ripening chambers," Kacker said at the summit on 'Mega Food Parks: An Investment Destination'.
Addressing members of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), stakeholders and officials, Kacker said the central government was keen to decentralise implementation of schemes for the sector in which states would be free to tailor them as per their requirement.
"To promote the sun rise sector in potential states across the country, the ministry has finalised four schemes − technology upgradation, cold chains for non−horticultural crops, skill development and promotional activities for backward and forward integaration," he said.
Stressing on the need to maintain quality standards in the processing units, the secretary said though the Food Safety & Standards Authority was playing the regulatory role, the ministry favoured a process of self−regulation by the industry itself.
"We are in discussion with the apex industry organisations to develop a system of self−certification by food processing units. The Quality Council of India has been directed to draw a roadmap," Kacker noted.
Noting that the food processing sector was critical to achieve growth in the farm sector, Kacker said growth in the sector was essential to meet the twin national objectives of inclusive growth and food security.
"There will be a surge in demand for food products due to shift in demographic profile, as 65 percent of the 1.2−billion population is below 35 years of age and size of middle class is set for over a 10−fold jump to 583 million people from 50 million currently," he noted.