As a study conducted by the Central Institute for Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology, postharvest losses in 2009 were to the tune of `44,000 crore. Some new schemes were taken up in the 11th Plan to uplift the food processing and cold chain system in the country, at this moment, they are at different stages of implementation.
Food grain production has registered a record growth in the country in recent years. India ranks high among fruit, vegetable, milk, poultry and meat producing countries of the world. This has led to remarkable improvement in the earning capacity of population engaged in agriculture and allied sectors. However, due to lack of efficient supply chains and processing infrastructure, the processing levels in the country are quite low. This results in considerable amount of wastage of agricultural and horticultural produce.
To harness the full potential of the food sector, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries launched new schemes in the 11th Plan, which are at different stages of implementation. The focus of these schemes is on creation of modern infrastructure to facilitate growth of food processing and cold chain system for handling perishable produce. More specifically, these schemes relate to the setting up of mega food parks, integrated cold chains, value addition and preservation of infrastructure and modernisation of abattoirs.
Food Processing: The 'Mega Food Parks' Scheme
The Mega Food Parks Scheme (MFPS), a flagship programme in the food processing sector, facilitates establishment of a strong infrastructure backed by an efficient supply chain. The MFPs have farm proximate facilities such as primary processing centres, collection centres and a central processing centre. The food processing units within an MFP use common infrastructure required for processing, packaging, quality control labs, trade facilitation centre etc., based on their needs. This cluster approach makes food processing more economically viable. The state-of-the art processing infrastructure gives them the required technical edge.
MFPs have the potential to revive the agriculture in the surrounding areas by increasing returns for farmers, besides creating large employment opportunities in rural areas.
Each MFP is envisaged to catalyse an investment of `250 crore, leading to annual turnover of about `400 to 500 crore. The scheme provides for a capital grant of 50 per cent of the project cost (excluding the cost of land) subject to a maximum of `50 crore. In difficult and ITDP notified areas, the grant is even higher at 75 per cent of project cost (excluding the cost of land) with a ceiling of `50 crore. The grant is utilized towards creation of common infrastructure in the MFP and also setting up of Primary Processing and Collection Centres.
Out of 30 proposed MFPs, 15 projects have been taken up so far. Of this, final approval has been accorded to eight MFPs in Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Jharkhand, Assam, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The cumulative project cost of these Parks is `930 crore. This includes grant of `400 crore. In-principle approval has been accorded to the remaining seven projects. 15 new MFPs are in the process of government approval.
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