Food processing, which was only six per cent in India in 2004, has now increased to 10 per cent, said Union Minister of Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahai here on Saturday.

Inaugurating a building at the Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology (IICPT), Mr. Sahai said that because of this increase, Rs.8,000-crore worth of wastage of food products was reduced in the past five years. However, wastage now was to the tune of Rs.50,000 crore and much more was needed to be done in the area of food processing.

Even during recession in other countries, the food processing industry in India maintained a good growth rate. India is the largest milk producer in the world and the second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables. The Central government has given lot of concessions to food processing industry in its budget. Food processing industry is the zero tax industry. The State governments should help the Centre by shaping a separate food processing policy for them, he said.

Mr. Sahai appealed to the State Commercial Taxes Minister S.N.M. Ubayathullah, who participated in the function, to exempt food processing from tax in the State as well. “In this connection, I am ready to meet Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi also and discuss with him about exempting food processing from taxation.”

Mega food park

Mr. Sahai said that a mega food park would soon come up at Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu. “A second green revolution is not possible without food processing.”

He appreciated Union Minister of State for Finance S.S. Palani Manickam for taking steps to retain the institute at Thanjavur when the Centre wanted to shift it to Chennai. Now the institute had grown to a world-class institute and scientists and students from here were involved in food processing in far-flung states like the north-east.

The Minister launched a website of the institute and released a souvenir on the occasion.