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“Vast & diverse Indian food heritage mix of art & science,” says Jyoti
Tuesday, 07 November, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Addressing a conference titled Globalising Traditional Foods of India, which was a part of World Food India (WFI) 2017, organised in New Delhi by the ministry of food processing industries (MoFPI), Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, minister of state for food processing industries, stated that Indian food heritage, as a mixture of art and science, was exceptionally vast and diverse.

“With 125-150 existing subcultures, the fact that remained common to all was India’s love and respect for food,” she said at the event for which the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the co-organiser, served as its national event partner. During her address, Jyoti highlighted the ancient Sanskrit saying, Annam parabrahma swaroopam (Food is God).

She spoke about India setting a Guinness Book world record by preparing 918kg of khichdi, a humble dish of rice and lentils that has been promoted as a Brand India food to sell healthy super foods in the domestic and international markets. Several such traditional foods have the potential to be showcased globally.

Addressing a conference titled innovative financing, railway minister Piyush Goyal said that a quantum jump in the size and growth of the food processing sector was needed to double the farmers’ incomes, and for this, the aim should be to propel the sector by more than ten times in the next five years.

He suggested that the shortlisting of food products for processing should keep the viability aspect in mind Indian tastes and preferences.

“Price stability across various food products can be ensured throughout the year in India by innovative solutions around transportation and storage,” Goyal added.

“Such solutions have to be innovative and tailor-made for Indian farmers and their markets. More indigenous and sustainable solutions with suitable quality control mechanisms are needed,” the minister said.

Saying that WFI has brought the focus of the world to the food processing sector in India, Goyal laid emphasis on the financing aspect, saying a holistic approach, where the farmers are provided capital and insurance, as well as technological know-how, could propel the sector.

He urged the industry to become a teacher to the farmers by educating them with the latest technology and methods, besides providing finance and insurance.

Goyal added that the government would like to play the role of a facilitator, as over-regulation by the government might act as an impediment to growth.

The minister cited the examples of Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali, which provided products at competitive prices to consumers, and farming co-operatives in the Baramati region of Maharashtra, where value addition in food processing was being carried out.

India’s north-east is a region of opportunities unexplored. Jitendra Singh, minister of state, development of north-eastern region, said, “It is this fact one needs to keep in mind when discussing the region.”

“In the last three or four years, a lot of effort has been made to attract investors to the north-east region,” he added.

Emphasising the potential of the region, Singh said, “The region is rich in production of various fruits and spices like pineapple, oranges, banana and ginger, along with the production of exotic fruits like kiwi, passion fruit and star fruit.”

He highlighted the steps taken by the government to improve railway connectivity, setting up three mega food parks and venture fund, besides the government’s Mission Organic Value Chain Development of the North-East Region (MOVCDNER), under which the government is focusing on overall development of the region.   

Madhesh Kumar Mishra, joint secretary, department of financial services, added that the incomes of farm producers should be kept in mind by industry players and policy-makers when devising solutions for the growth of the sector.

Neeraj Kakkar, co-founder and chief executive officer, PaperBoat-Hector Beverages, stated that the three strengths of Indian food, variety, taste and wholesome ingredients, have impacted human health positively.

He added that start-ups could harness the potential of traditional foods and take advantage of the grand opportunities that are presenting themselves with innovations in taste, packaging, fusion food and manufacturing.

Prasad Gopalan, manager, agri-business, International Finance Corporation, said, “India’s capital market needs to develop further to improve credit availability for the micro-, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector, which is crucial for development of the food processing sector.”

Diane Boogaard, chief executive officer, Asia, Rabobank, talked about sharing the best practices from across the globe in providing credit to the MSME players in food processing sector.  

Manish Aggarwal, executive director, Bikanervala Foods Pvt Ltd, said, “Indian snacks and sweets have the potential to become the new chips and chocolate of the modern consumer world.”

“Indian food must find a way to be easily available, convenient, fast and cheap for it to be accepted globally,” he added.

A K Tyagi, executive director, Haldiram Snacks Pvt Ltd, said, “India has a huge potential in food, as the large Indian diaspora continues to play a vital role in popularising traditional Indian foods internationally.”

Mohit Anand, managing director, India and South Asia, Kellogg India Pvt Ltd, said, “Food is embedded in local cultures, and therefore, there is a need localise global food to suit the tastes of local people.”

The session was wrapped up by Sanjay Sharma, chief executive officer, MTR Foods Pvt Ltd. He said, “Experimentation trend of the Indian market is at a nascent stage and must be explored further.”

A K Yadav, advisor, National Accreditation Board (Organic), Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), said, “Organic food certification issued by Indian certification bodies are acceptable in Europe and the United States and the north-east has immense potential for organic food sourcing.” He emphasised that Sikkim was the first state which was fully organic.
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