Sunday, July 12, 2009


India is blessed with a minister lording over the affairs of Ministry of Food Processing at New Delhi, who took over as MoS reluctantly in 2004 after some 'persuasion' by the Prime Minister and if 5 years of announcements and pronouncements made by the minister between 2004 and 2009, are taken seriously food industry in India must be in the pink of health. His promotion to full fledged cabinet rank seems to have brought out his talent in speaking as reflected by the proclamation of his proposed "plans" for the food sector during the first 100 days of the new government. It is not clear whether the counting starts from the day the minister is sworn in or from the day he made the announcement, July 1, 2009. Plus or minus a few days, still the target set by him is indeed ambitious. A sample is given below:

1. MoFPI will set up 350 new food processing units in sectors like fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy,grains and consumer products
2. It will generate 10 million jobs by 2015, the program starting in 100 days
3. Financial assistance of Rs 50 lakh or 25% of the investment which ever is less will be extended to each new unit
4. Employment of 18 people directly and 64 people indirectly per Rs one crore investment will be the guideline for new industries
5. The ministry will usher in an 'evergreen revolution' to ensure continuity of the benefits derived from green revolution in agriculture
6. It will set in motion plans to train 1 lakh trained personnel for the food industry
7. MoFPI will prepare a blue print for creating one million skilled workers and 0.5 million women entrepreneurs
8. The much touted NIFTEM at Kundli, Haryana, MoFPI's brain child conceived during the last 5-year Plan, is proposed to be inaugurated during this period
9. Focus will be on creating infrastructure for supporting the food processing sector and proposes to commission two integrated cold chain projects
10. Proposal to set up India's first Mega Food Park named Patanjali Food and Herbal Park near Haridwar in Uttarkhand will be given shape and this program will be expanded to set up another 10 such mega parks within two years
11. MoFPI will seriously pursue efforts to declare a tax holiday for the food sector, lower customs, VAT and excise duty rates on products, raw materials and packaging inputs as it has realized now that such financial levies are crime against the farmers of this country
12. Not to be left behind, R & D agenda for the food sector will be set by the ministry
13. It will launch nation wide "campaigns" to address safety and quality issues and improve competitiveness in the unorganized sector, small and medium scale enterprises
14. MoFPI 'wishes' to raise the level of food processing from 6% to 20% by 2015
15. Value addition to raw materials through processing will be raised from 20 to 35 % while country's share in global food trade will be enhanced from 1.5% to 3% by 2015

Looked from any angle the plans are mind boggling and the country should consider itself lucky even if a fraction of what is proposed, materializes at the ground level, not in 100 days but at least within the next 2 years It is believed that God, up in the heaven, has a habit of saying 'Asthu' frequently and if the time of making this proclamation on July 1, 2009 has coincided with God's blessings, we may yet see the fulfillment of the minister's dreams, if not within 100 days, some time there after!.


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