Union Agriculture Minister inaugurates Srini Food Park in Chittoor district
Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar sees food processing industry as holding the key to bringing down the prices of essential commodities, even after ensuring Minimum Support Price (MSP) to the farming community.
“As the Minister for Consumer Affairs earlier, my concern was on reducing prices, and now, on ensuring MSP. Food processing can reduce wastage and also ensure value addition to the products, thus achieving both the objectives,” he explained.
He was speaking on Monday after inaugurating Srini Food Park, the first of the ten mega food parks sanctioned across the country, at Mogili village abutting the Chennai-Bangalore National Highway 4 in Chittoor district.
Apart from the duty exemption the sector was currently enjoying, Mr.Pawar also wanted it to be brought under the ambit of priority sector lending as an added incentive.
Although the country was the top producer of pulses, banana and mango and the second largest producer of rice, wheat, potato, garlic and groundnut, it could not make much progress on the productivity front due to the inadequate processing infrastructure. “We are losing revenue due to wastage of perishables and we need to address this issue,” the Union Minister observed.
Mr. Pawar pointed out, in this connection, to the National Mission on Food Processing, a decentralised initiative to encourage the State’s participation in the sector by ensuring convergence of various programmes.
Recalling Chittoor’s association with the food processing industry since the advent of the Nutrine group in the 1950s, Chief Minister N.Kiran Kumar Reddy explained the importance of cold chains in ensuring remunerative prices to farmers in sectors like dairy, poultry and horticulture. Union Minister for Tourism Subodh Kant Sahay lauded the international standards maintained at the facility.
Union Ministers of State Charan Das Mahant (Food processing) and K.H. Muniyappa (Railways), former Member of Parliament (Chittoor) D.K.Audikesavulu, State Ministers Galla Arunakumari (Mines and Geology) and K.Lakshminarayana (Agriculture) and local legislator P.Ravi were among the participants.