Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs K.V. Thomas has reiterated that the Central Government is committed to ensuring the food security in the country.

He was inaugurating the first Indo-US International Conference on Polymers for Packaging Applications at Mahatma Gandhi University on Saturday.

Prof. Thomas said that the Government has set the goal of ushering in the ‘Evergreen Revolution’, which will bring in enhanced value for agricultural commodities and produce to the farmers, and ensure an increase in rural incomes and provide food security to hundreds of millions in the country. The will be done by increasing several folds the levels of food processing, exports of packaged food products to other countries, preventing post-harvest losses of grains, fruits and vegetables, and ensuring proper distribution of food to the needy through our public distribution system network. These efforts have to take place in a multi- disciplinary fashion ensuring sustainability of agricultural systems, and keeping in mind that food has to be not only easily accessible to the public but also safe and free from contamination. Packing plays and will continue to play an ever important role in this Herculean effort, he said.

Elaborating on the importance of packaging, he said, “packaging of foods, be it for grains or for finished processed food on the retail shelves or for export markets, should not only be of the highest quality but also ensure that we do not increase our reliance on scarce petroleum resources and conventional plastics, and take up valuable land space for disposal of materials that are non-degradable and sometimes toxic to the environment. The same holds true for packaging utilized in myriad other non-food applications including consumer goods and electronics.

Prof. Thomas also pointed out that the conference will be extremely useful for scientific exchange between researchers from all over the world. This also includes developing fresh partnerships cutting across organisations, states, countries, boundaries of which now increasingly appear to be artificial as far as scientific exchange and research collaboration is concerned. The true value of the conference will appear in the cross cutting ideas that will be shared and developed and strong collaborative research partnerships that will evolve from this gathering of brilliant minds, for addressing the great challenges faced by the world today including food security, energy independence, sustainable development and environmental stewardship.

He assured the approval of a proposal for establishing an Advanced Centre for Agro-based Polymeric Materials that is intended to develop bio degradable packaging applications. Submitted by the Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology of Mahatma Gandhi University, the project has been estimated to be worth Rs. 23.9 crore.

Vice Chancellor Rajan Gurukkal presided over the function. K P Sandeep of the North Carolina State University; Sajid Alavi of the Kansas State University; Sabu Thomas, Director, Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology; and Nandakumar Kalarikkal, Joint Director, Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology spoke on the occasion.