Special Correspondent

Plan to market Krishnagiri mangoes under brand name ‘Krisma’

Solvent extraction plant to prepare rice bran oil in Tiruvannamalai

CHENNAI: To enable farmers to make value-added products, the State Government has asked ITCOT Consultancy and Services to prepare a study for creation of two region-specific clusters in Krishnagiri and Thiruvanamalai.

The first pertains to marketing Krishnagiri mangoes under the brand name ‘Krisma’ and the second is related to setting up of a solvent extraction plant in Tiruvannamalai to prepare vegetable rice bran oil at a total cost of Rs. 16-20 crore.

Talking to The Hindu on Wednesday, Industries Commissioner and Director of Industries and Commerce M. Raman said: “We are developing 15 region-specific clusters in different parts of Tamil Nadu for development of farmers and small and medium enterprises. ITCOT has been conducting several studies … of which two related to agro-food processing.”

Developing and marketing of Krisma was still at a development stage, he said. The study had to find out the willingness of farmers to form a consortium, chip in their produce for processing and packaging and marketing.

The solvent extraction plant, on the lines of the Kalady rice bran cluster, would cater to the needs of 50 rice mills initially. “There are 150-200 rice mills in and around Tiruvannamalai. Even the farmers can take the initiative to set up more such plants. We are asking them to take advantage of the situation by forming consortia to produce unique vegetable oil in huge quantities. Nothing would go waste. Rice husk could be used for cogeneration of power, as ash for silicon extraction and as fish feed.”

Mr. Raman said the State was keen on encouraging farmers and SMEs to form regional clusters, provided they came up with the idea. Of course, the Centre was providing 70-80 per cent of funds under the Industrial Cluster Investment Programme, while the balance had to be met by the consortium members. Equipment and technology would be given to the interested parties.

Speaking at a seminar on ‘Export opportunities for processed foods,’ he said the retail sector was undergoing an evolution, and it was time for the Indian farm producers to offer value-added products to tap the huge potential of the food processing sector. The cost of product in India was low, while multiple layers in the supply chain made the end product costlier. Hence, the formation of common clusters with the best infrastructure was mooted.

Canara Bank circle office General Manager R. Prabha said India was going through a retail evolution with the consumers moving away from semi-processed foods to the fully processed foods. The U.S., Australia and Europe consumeD 26 per cent of processed foods a year, while India’s global share was hardly one per cent. “We have to provide more value-added goods that meet the stringent and highest quality standards set up by these countries.”