Hitting the Right Chord: Mega Food Parks Scheme Putting Food Processing Industry on Right Track
Today, India is the fastest growing economy in the world and is home to over 1.3 billion people. The country’s rising disposable income has fueled the growth of the world’s largest consumer market. India is amongst the largest producers of food in the world. India is 1st in milk production in the world, 2nd largest producer of fruits and vegetables and 2nd largest fish producer in the world. India has a vast raw material base for the food processing industry. However, less than 2-5% of the country’s natural produce is processed due to lack of processing facilities, infrastructure and technology. Almost 25-30 per cent of agriculture produce is estimated to be wasted in the absence of proper processing mechanism. Only 7 per cent of the total Indian perishable produce is processed, which is extremely low compared to countries such as the US (65 per cent), Philippines (78 per cent) and China (23 per cent).
Realising the need for improving capacity of the food processing industry, the government has taken several initiatives to stimulus the growth of the sector. One of the significant initiative is Mega Food Parks scheme with the view to establish mega food clusters in India. ‘Mega Food Parks’ scheme which is based on the cluster approach for developing food processing industries. Mega Food Park is to provide modern infrastructure facilities for the food processing along the value chain from the farm to the market.
To give a major boost to the food processing sector by adding value and reducing food wastage at each stage of the supply chain with particular focus on perishables, Ministry of Food Processing Industries is implementing Mega Food Parks Scheme in the country. Mega Food Parks create modern infrastructure facilities for food processing along the value chain from farm to market with strong forward and backward linkages through a cluster-based approach. Common facilities and enabling infrastructure is created at Central Processing Center and facilities for primary processing and storage is created near the farm in the form of Primary Processing Centers (PPCs) and Collection Centers (CCs).Under the Scheme, Government of India provides financial assistance upto Rs. 50.00 Crore per Mega Food Park project.
India’s first mega food park ‘Srini Mega Food Park’, sprawling 147-acre space, was opened in Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh in 2012. From seed to shelf, Srini Food Park facilitates end-to-end food processing with beneficial forward and backward linkages. Currently, 9 Mega Food Parks namely Patanjali Food and Herbal Park, Haridwar, Srini Food Park, Chittoor, North East Mega Food Park, Nalbari, International Mega Food Park, Fazilka, Integrated Food Park, Tumkur, Jharkhand Mega Food Park, Ranchi, Indus Mega Food Park, Khargoan and Jangipur Bengal Mega Food Park, Murshidabad, MITS Mega Food Park, Rayagada, Orissa are functional. Recently, foundation stones for two new Mega Food Parks were laid in Kerala.
The expected outcome is creation of high quality processing infrastructure, reduction in wastage, capacity building of producers and processors and creation of an efficient supply chain along with significant direct and indirect employment generation. The present Government is focusing on boosting the food processing industry so that agriculture sector grows exponentially and become a major contributor to doubling the farmer’s income and ‘Make in India’ initiative of the government. The government has made Food Processing a major thrust area of ‘Make in India’ initiative.
The present government is fully committed to providing an environment that is smooth, transparent and easy for investors wanting to start an enterprise in India and in a bid to make India a resilient food economy and Food Factory of the World. Through Mega Food Park scheme the ministry has hit the right track. In coming years, Mega Food Parks will generate colossal revenue for the industry and the farmers and will surely boost the food processing industry in the country.