“Political parties opposing the Foreign Direct Investment [FDI] in multi-brand retail should change their stance and think about farmers,” Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahai said in response to whether the Centre should talk to parties opposing FDI in retail trade.

The Minister was speaking here on Thursday on the sidelines of the India-International Potato Expo-2010.

“In the potato-growing West Bengal, contract farming is being done by private companies. But the State will not admit it. So instead of opposing FDI, the parties running the State should bring in law to support contract farming and post-harvest management.”

Long-standing demand

Welcoming the move to allow FDI in retail, he said it was a long-standing demand of the food processing sector.

“It will help farmers' produce to be sold in the world market through linkages with FDI companies. The big chains will not go to small and rural markets, so artiyas [middle men] and small vendors will remain. The fear that small players will be hurt is unfounded.”

Mr. Sahai said that with proper investment and infrastructure development, “India can become the food factory for the world.”