The United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre would allocate Rs.10 crore for setting up cold chain for storage of vegetables, fruits and flowers in Krishnagiri district, Subodh Kant Sahay, Union Minister for Food Processing Industries said here on Tuesday.
The Minister arrived here from Bangalore to lay the foundation for the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Health Hospital in Athimugam near Veppanahalli in the district.
After inaugurating the plaque to mark the laying of foundation for the rural hospital, Mr. Sahay said the cold chain project would help farmers improve the shelf life and get good price for their produce.
Considering the demand of the pulp industries in and around Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri, the Minister also announced hundred per cent funding if the State government comes forward to set up a Research and Development Laboratory exclusively for the food products in the district.
If the Federation of Pulp Industries set up such laboratories, the government would provide fifty per cent funding, he added.
Besides this, a meeting of the farmers from the mango clusters in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra would be convened in Krishnagiri or in Delhi to chalk out measure to establish a representative office of the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) in the district.
Mr. Sahay asked the investors to start more food processing industries, as it would enhance the value of the agriculture produce and improve the standard of living of the farmers. Though India was the second largest producer of vegetables in the world, only two and half percent of the produce is processed here; due to this Rs.15,000 crore worth vegetables are rotten and become waste.
On the demand of the people's representatives to establish a Food Park in Krishnagiri, Mr. Sahay said the government took a policy decision to establish one park in each State as of now, later on the number may be increased. He also mentioned the Food Park project sanctioned for Dharmapuri district near Morappur.
The Minister suggested that farmers undertake contract farming to get maximum yield with minimum risk. It would help even the small farmers to become a stake holder. Outside investors undertake farming activities with latest technologies, water management etc., in this case; and even if there was natural calamity or drought, farmers' revenue will not be affected, Mr. Sahay added.
The Union government made Food Processing Industry a tax-less sector. Hence Mr. Sahay appealed to the State to waive the tax on perishable and non perishable goods.
Earlier, Mr. Sahay released the Health Card of the MAK Trust and inaugurated the free ambulance services of the trust. K.A. Manoharan, Hosur Former MLA welcomed the gathering. Abdul Aziz Amanullah, Managing Trustee, MAK Trust proposed vote of thanks.
C. Narasimman, former Krishnagiri MP presided over the function. Roshan Baig, former Minister, Karnataka, T. Senguttuvan, Krishnagiri MLA participated.