Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Union FPI Minister chaired the second series of Food Processing Edition of Exclusive Investment Forum by Invest India, the National Investment Promotion & Facilitation Agency of the Government of India. This was in continuation to the first investment forum held on 22nd June 2020.
The forum witnessed participation from the senior most policy makers from both Union and 6 State Governments – Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. 193 companies from 19 countries also participated in the forum.
Union Minister said that the nationwide lockdown was successful due to Government’s effort to make essentials especially food available at every corner of the country since the beginning. FPI Minister thanked the food industry for their tremendous effort to make it happen although there were many new challenges such as fall in trade, unavailability of required number of workers, wastage of perishables etc.
Union Minister was of the opinion that these challenges needed to be converted into opportunities by establishing new normal in the food industry. Smt. Badal requested all participants to follow the clarion call of Hon’ble Prime Minister to become ‘Atma Nirbhar’ and ‘be vocal for local’. New countries are looking at India as sourcing hub as compared to the traditional ones from where these were importing earlier. Hence, it is time to ensure that the industry works at its full potential. Smt. Badal shared an example of one of Ministry funded cold chain getting orders of fruits & vegetables from new geographies.
Union Minister advised all investors to look at the low hanging Ready to Eat (RTE) segment as potential opportunity. She mentioned that the Superfoods of India need to be highlighted to the western world and advised states to share the most popular and nutritious local food which could branded and marketed through big retailers in foreign countries to target Indian diaspora.
Union Minister talked about the importance of modern technology for creating an aggregation portal at the national level for monitoring pan India inventory of agri-food products which would not only help the industry in sourcing but also help in boosting exports.
Union Minister informed about the Ministry’s new scheme to be launched on 29th June 2020 to formalize the micro food processing enterprises which would support them in accessing the latest know-how, affordable credit as well as new markets. She mentioned that 74% of the total employment in food processing was in unorganized segment. 60% of the 25 lakh units that we were aware of, were in rural areas and 80% of these were family owned. This segment alone could be the future of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and could make the initiative successful.
Smt. Badal pointed the agri-food segment as the champion sector in getting huge thrust in the relief packages announced recently. Participants were informed about Government’s decision of forming Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGoS)’ and ‘Project Development Cell (PDC) in Ministries / Departments for attracting and supporting domestic as well as foreign investments in India. Participants were further apprised about the dedicated Investment Facilitation Cell of MoFPI at Invest India for handholding all investment interests in a structured manner.
Union Minister urged the states to reduce power rates for food processing industry specifically cold chain units at par with agricultural rates. She concluded her remarks by advising states to work together with the Union Government to charter a new force to take the sector forward.
Shri Rameswar Teli, MoS, FPI thanked all participants for joining the investment forum and informed that the Central and States governments are taking strong policy decisions for all investors to take advantages of increasing growth opportunities in Indian food processing sector.
Crucial aspects for investment decisions ranging from policy incentives, industrial zones, infrastructure capabilities, to special investor facilitation services were discussed at the Forum so as to make India the next Global Investments hub.