The Union Minister of Food Processing Industry, Harsimrat Kaur Badal in a statement said; she was keen to give impetus to the Food Processing Industry as she sees a huge potential here after her talk with the representatives from the industry. She said the government would definitely do as much as it could to allocate more resources in the new budget to improve infrastructure like cold chains and remove supply-side bottlenecks.
She also said that the Government would like to give impetus to the food processing industry, allocate it more funds and also the Government is thinking of making it an independent Ministry so that the food processing industry could achieve zenith.
The Product Approval process has been seen as a bottleneck by many food business operators and it was also one of the main agenda of the minister. The food business operators opined that the product approval fee of Rupees 25000 is very high for small matters like change in the name on the label. The delayed process of the product approvals has also been one of the key issues for the food industry.
The minister has promised to hold discussions with FSSAI on the reasons for the need of repeated approvals and also on the issue of imported food shipments that are lying at various ports. She has targeted these as doable objects though she was prompt to say that a lot also depends on the stakeholders, particularly the various state governments.
The representatives of the industry felt, though the Act is simple, but FSSAI needs to take control of the situation for the better implementations of the regulations.
When questioned about FSSAI’s restructure, the Minister said that the standards followed globally are not accepted here in India and so there is always scope for the improvement and the Government would act as a facilitator to see that the dreams of the food industry are realized.
The minister said that her Ministry would also look into ‘best practice model’ where a food map of the country would be built to easily pinpoint what is being grown where, what are the shortcomings, and what needs to be done. As part of the best practices model she would like to make a Board which has officials of the concerned department of the State so the issues concerning the industry can get cleared and that should solve the need felt for single – window clearance.
With regard to an increase in the share for the food industry from the current level of 1.5% of the total foreign direct investment (FDI) coming into the country, Badal said that this matter can only be decided by the Government.
She said her Ministry would work on improving the situation of farmers, so they can get better yield, at better prices and the waste is minimized which would hopefully lower the inflation. Another way, the food processing industry can fight inflation is to increase food processing so the housewife always has healthy alternatives off the shelf at a reasonable price.
The Minister feels that the food processing industry can be instrumental in imparting skills to a large part of the population, without the need for a specialized college.