Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahai has appealed to the Tamil Nadu government to formulate a food processing policy for the State.

Inaugurating an international conference ‘Food Processing - Edition II' at Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology (IICPT) here on Saturday, the Minister said the IICPT should guide the State government in shaping the policy. “You should call the State Agriculture, Industries and Finance Ministers to the institute and discuss with them about the policy. You should know from them what facilities they could offer for food processing and give your guidance in formulating a policy on food processing,” Mr. Sahai said.

“A separate food processing policy is essential for Tamil Nadu, as a majority of the people in the State are farmers and agriculture is the mainstay in many districts. Thanjavur is the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu and 10 by-products can be obtained from rice. IICPT should introduce them to farmers. Like Amul in Anand, which produces its own milk and milk products and managing a dairy, IICPT can produce juices and train farmers in producing them,” Mr. Sahai said.

India, Mr. Sahai said, was on the threshold of a food processing technology revolution. The country had already seen the information technology revolution and biotechnology revolution. The future was in food processing technology, for which the country had started preparing itself now.

Farming in India was “fragmented” and the farmers had only small holdings unlike foreign countries where the holding is very big. With this fragmented farming, farmers of our country are expected to produce quality food. That was the challenge before them.

India had the largest agriculture land in South Asia. Moreover, there were 26 climatic zones in the country. “We can produce anything and every thing in these zones. But our productivity is less compared to other countries,” the Minister said.

To reduce wastage of food grains, Mr. Sahai said processing technology should be made available to farmers. Institutes such as IICPT should try to provide this to the farmers. The Union government was implementing a lot of schemes for improving food processing. Fifty per cent subsidy was being given to cold chain projects costing a maximum of Rs.10 crore and Rs.50 crore for food parks. A mega food park is coming up at a cost of Rs.50 crore in Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu. The Minister released a souvenir, a farmers' manual and a butchers' manual on the occasion.

Ashok Sinha, Secretary, Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries; Digvir S.Jayas, vice-president, Research, University of Manitoba, Canada; and K. Alagu Sundaram, Director, IICPT, spoke. Delegates from various countries are participating in the two-day conference. The focal theme of the conference is ‘Greening Food Processing Sector for Sustainable Safe Food Supply.'

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