How mega food parks benefit the agricultural sector and reduce food wastage

February 27, 2019

Intending to grow the agriculture sector exponentially, become a major contributor to doubling the farmer’s income and ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government a major success, the Government of India is working vigorously to boost the food processing industry. This is important to add value and reduce food wastage at each stage of the supply chain, which is a major source of concern.

Giving value to the food processing industry is important because for long we have been focusing on exporting commodities and there is a limit to it. When exporting commodities, we only export what is in excess. And we only export what comes cheaper to importers from all the options that they have in hand. This puts a cap on the growth based on commodity export, as there is a limit to the excess product available at a competitive price, and beyond that, we cannot export any further.

Though we are yet to reach our full potential as far as export of commodities goes and there is still a lot that can be done not only to have more harvest but to have a harvest of products fetch a better price, focus on value-added products is sure to give us far greater income. It is here that centralized food parks gain importance as they enable us to provide the much-needed value to the commodities we export, bringing in greater profits. They also help in reducing food wastage at various ends to a significant extent.

India had only two food parks in existence until 2014. Upon coming to power and understanding the great value that food parks can bring to our Agri exports, Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi announced that he would open 40 more special food parks in the country. The Mega Food Park Scheme was announced by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries to a cluster-based approach. This would entail creating common facilities and enabling infrastructure at Central Processing Centre and creating facilities for primary processing and storage near the farms in the form of Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) and Collection Centres (CCs).

The recently announced Agri Export Policy 2018 by Mr Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce & Industry also stresses on clusters and food parks to benefit Agriagri export from India. Resultantly, a good number of mega food parks, out of the envisaged 40, have already become operational while work is on for others.

Tripura has recently inaugurated its first food park at an investment of Rs. 85 crore that is expected to generate employment for around 30000 people. This was the 18th mega food park to become operational.

Earlier in February 2019, Union Minister of Food Processing Industries Mrs Harsimrat Kaur Badal inaugurated India’s first Mega Aqua Food Park operationalized exclusively for fish and marine products processing in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Set up at a cost of Rs. 122.60 crore on a 57.81 acre of land, the park – known as the Godavari Mega Aqua Food Park Pvt. Ltd. – include a pre-processing line for the fist of 1.5 TPH, the pre-processing line for shrimp of 1.5 TPH, freezing of fish of 1.5 TPH, freezing of shrimp of 1.5 TPH, cold storage of fish of 2000 MT, cold storage for shrimp of 1000 MT, ice plant, food testing laboratory besides state of art enabling infrastructure.

Cremica Food Park set up in 52.40 acres of land at Rs. 107.34 crore, became Himachal Pradesh’s first mega food park when Mrs Harsimrat Kaur Badal inaugurated it in the presence of the State’s Chief Minister Mr Jai Ram Thakur. The facilities being developed at Central Processing Centre (CPC) of this Mega Food Park include Multi-crop pulping line with bulk aseptic packaging, frozen storage of 1000 MT, deep freeze, dry warehouse, QC Laboratory and other food processing facilities. The Park will provide direct and indirect employment to 5000 persons and benefit about 25000 farmers in the CPC and PPC catchment areas. The modern infrastructure for food processing created at the Park will benefit the farmers, growers, processors and consumers in the State and the adjoining areas and prove to be a big boost to the growth of the food processing sector in the state of Himachal Pradesh.

Another Mega Food Park being developed by Punjab Agro Industries Corporation in Ladhowal is scheduled to be inaugurated soon in which international-level investors such as Godrej Tyson Foods, Iscon Balaji Foods and Meat Masters have already completed their projects, while other investors are in the process of complementing the necessary formalities after the purchase of plots.

Mrs Harsimrat Kaur Badal has also laid the foundations for a Mega Food Park at Mathura wherein the facilities would include Multipurpose Cold Storage – 2000 MT, Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) with Frozen Storage – 2 MT/Hr and 4000 MT, Dry Warehouse – 10000 MT, Raw milk packaging line – 2 LLPD, pulses and grain packaging line – 2 MT & Food testing lab. This Park too is likely to provide direct or indirect employment to 5000 people and benefit about 25000 farmers in the CPC and PPC catchment areas.

Creation of such Mega Food Parks aims to bring together farmers, processors and retailers and link them with the market to ensure maximization of value addition, minimization of wastages and improving farmers’ income.

The Government has sanctioned a total of 42 MFPs to be set up throughout the country. MFP projects are also coming up in Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar, Tripura, Mizoram, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha and two in Kerala. MFPs are already operational at Chittoor (Andhra Pradesh), Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar (Uttarakhand), Tumkur (Karnataka), Fazilka (Punjab), Nalbari (Assam), Khargone (Madhya Pradesh), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Murshidabad (West Bengal), Rayagada (Odisha), Satara (Maharashtra), Ajmer (Rajasthan) and Surat (Gujarat).

Several countries from the Middle East have lately expressed a desire to purchase Agri products from India to meet their food security requirements. The visiting Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman recently gave such an offer. Similarly, the UAE Food Security delegation that visited IndusFood too gave a similar offer to their Indian counterparts. They have even expressed a desire for the Indian government to give land or allow them to purchase land to build their processing units, a proposal rejected by India. Despite this, fact remains that these countries are looking towards India to source their food security requirements and the food parks even if not leased or sold, will play an important part soon as they create modern infrastructure facilities for food processing along the value chain from farm to market with strong forward and backward linkages through a cluster-based approach.

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