Centre has already started work on developing a mechanism to ensure states producing any item in excess is able to transport it to other states where there is demand.
The government plans to cut down on nationwide food wastage by linking major producing states with states experiencing high demand.
Speaking at the second edition of Indus Food, India’s official export-focused food & beverage trade fair, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the government will get involved in the transportation of perishable items on priority basis.
“Every day we hear news of farmers from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, and Maharashtra doing a distress sale of their produce.
"But this is soon going to change as the Centre has already started work on developing a mechanism to ensure states producing any item in excess is able to transport it to other states where there is demand,” she said.
“We have already tied up with organisations like the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India to make this happen. This will greatly help farmers get the right price for their produce,” Badal said.
This will be part of Operation Greens. The scheme is directed at promoting farmer producer organisations, agri-logistics, processing facilities and professional management.
The operation aims to aid farmers and help control and limit the erratic fluctuations in the prices of onions, potatoes, and tomatoes.
India is able to use just 10 per cent of its produce in the food processing industry, while over 60 per cent of the population continues to be engaged in agriculture.
The government blames this on lack of proper cold storage facilities. It has announced loans worth Rs 50 crore to build mini cold chains.
Investments in the food processing sector have crossed $1 billion under the Narendra Modi government, while it stood at $50 million under the 10 years of the United Progressive Alliance regime.
“We have also signed agreements to the tune of $14 billion, of which projects worth $14 billion have already started by 30 companies,” Badal said.
Global buyers reach
The Agri Export Policy, released last month by the government, also aims to slash food wastage, but primarily by boosting exports.
The two-day expo being organised by the Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI) is part of the government’s plan to push India into the list of top 10 food exporting nations.
Indus Food-II is bringing about 800 international wholesale buyers, big-sized food chains, and governmental bodies from about 80 countries, up from 400 buyers in its inaugural year.
These players have the chance to meet 500-plus exhibitors covering 15 product zones.
“With the government itself now working towards the identification of most prominent global buyers and creating their interaction with quality Indian suppliers through Indus Food, the benefit will percolate through to the farmers.
"Moreover, the target of $60 billion exports, as envisaged in our Agri Export Policy, is now within reach,” said TPCI Chairman Mohit Singla.
Supported by the commerce department, Indus Food is the flagship global trade show to maximise business opportunities for the food and beverage industry.
It specially promotes value-added and organic products. India is ranked first in terms of the total number of organic producers, with 1.1 million farmers adopting organic farming.
With the government removing all restrictions on the export of organic farm products, the organic food export is sure to contribute in a much bigger way now, in meeting the target of $60 billion food and agriculture exports by 2022, as set by the Agriculture Export Policy 2018,” added Singla.
Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters