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FOOD PROCESSING

Govt gives in-principle nod to sector-specific financial institutions
Saturday, 10 February, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
The Government of India has agreed in principle regarding the need of sector-specific financial institutions for easier lending of credit for the food processing sector. This was stated at the Food World India 2018 summit, which took place in New Delhi and was organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). It was the 11th essay of the event.

“This year’s Budget speech made a mention on such needs and will be helpful in creating such financial institutions that would help the food processing industries in getting easy credit,” said J P Meena, secretary, ministry of food processing industries (MoFPI), during his keynote address at the summit, whose theme was Capitalising Food Processing in the Digital Era.  

“While the availability of credit to food processing units was a challenge, the government was looking at the feasibility of having sector-specific financial institutions to take care of the credit requirements,” he said, adding that the finance ministry in-principle agreed to this idea.

MoFPI proposed the creation of a bank for the processing industries in line with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), as reported earlier by FnB News.

Meanwhile, on the challenges faced by the food processing industry, Meena said, “Indigenous production of machinery and equipment required by the industry has remained a grey area.”

“In this regard, the industry should provide relevant inputs to research and development (R&D) institutions. so that mechanisation is in tune with the requirements. In packaging as well, the excessive reliance on the use of plastics is also a matter of concern,” he added, stating that the time was ripe to develop bio-degradable alternatives to plastics.

Ashish Bahuguna, chairman, Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), was also present at the summit. He assured the industry that the spate of regulations on food standards and safety will abate in the next 6 to 12 months. “The industry will be given ample time to align their products and processes seamlessly to the new standards,” he added.

He added that the Budget announcement on creating farmer producers’ organisations (FPOs) will go a long way in connecting with the farmers. “The government will facilitate the aggregation of farmers and their linkage with food standards and government schemes,” Bahuguna said.

Commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu reiterated that the government was working on an agriculture export strategy that would give primacy to value addition and job creation.

He emphasised the potential of marine products export, for which the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) had been given specific targets for value-added exports.

Prabhu urged food processing industry professionals to develop processed food items that appealed to the palates of the consumers in export markets. This segment needs to be exploited aggressively, apart from exporting Indian food products for use by Indians overseas.

“Processed, ready-to-eat food, produced under good regulations with regard to safety and standards are a great opportunity for the manufacturing sector with the attendant beneficial effect on downstream industries,” he added.

Sanjay Sharma, chair, FICCI Food Processing Committee, was also present at the day-long convention. He stressed that the food processing sector was characterised by three major changes, namely, changing consumer tastes, digitalisation and availability of finance. “The digital age would build the industry for the next big step,” Sharma added.

The inaugural session was also addressed by Hemant Malik, co-chair, FICCI Food Processing Committee, and Dilip Chenoy, director general, FICCI.

The summit also witnessed a chief executive officers’ (CEOs’) panel discussion on the growth and opportunity in food processing, digitalisation in food marketing, innovation and opportunities for food start-ups and building consumer trust.
 
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