Union Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti today said that only 2 per cent of the food produced in the country is processed while farm commodities worth Rs 92,000 crore are wasted every year. The Minister of State for Food Processing, who was here to participate in the seventh edition of Food Processing, Agri-Business and Dairies (FAD) international summit, also admitted that there is lot to be done for this industry.
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"Though my ministry is doing a good job to uplift the food processing industry, there is still lot to be done. As per a recent report, only 2 per cent food produced in India goes for processing. At the same time, food worth Rs 92,000 crore are wasted every year," she said.
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The minister stressed on the need to keep in mind the need of small farmers to frame policy related to food processing. "Since I also belong to village, I have seen that small farmers could not add value to their produces, such as vegetable, which they are forced to sell at a cheaper rate due to lack of proper storage facility.
"I believe that we should build small cold storages at village level so that farmers can store their produces, and sell whenever they get suitable price," Jyoti said. "Cold storages are better option than mega food parks, which need huge investments, large amount of land, skilled manpower and machinery," she added.
The Fatehpur MP also expressed concern over wastage of food and stated that her ministry is actively working towards an effective cold chain system having cold storages and refrigerated transportation for food commodities. "In India, food worth Rs 92,000 crore get wasted every year. As per my knowledge, India is having less than 50 per cent cold chain infrastructure than the actual requirement. We are actively thinking to increase this capacity to stop the wastage of food," she said.
According to her, food parks are also equally important to generate new employment. "At present, around 17 lakh persons are getting employment through this industry and it has the capacity to generate more employment. Gujarat too has a huge potential in this sector, but, there are very few foods parks here," Jyoti said. "Thus, we have approved three food projects here, one each in Surat, Kutch and Mehsana district," she added.