The current crop year 2020-21 saw India’s foodgrain production rise 2.66% to a new record of 305.43 million tons. Last year’s good monsoon resulted in a better harvest of rice, wheat and pulses. Well, even before the bumper harvest knocked at our doors, the Ministry of Food Processing had introduced an ambitious scheme to develop large food processing hubs in the country under the “Mega Food Park Scheme.”
The main purpose of this scheme is to ensure a robust network of development of state-of-the-art food processing systems, which would ensure that our food, for which our farmers toil and shed their blood and sweat, doesn’t go waste. The scheme is driven by the market demand as well as the responsibility towards environment. The food processing units, thus set up, will be fulfilling the requirements of the market as well as the society by providing job guarantee. Experts say that these food parks could prove to be a turning point in the country’s “Atmanirabharta” or self-reliance!
In order to ensure that the Mega Food Park Scheme is executed properly, it is being implemented through a system called the “Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) System.” In this system, you have government agencies, retailers, service providers, financial institutions, food processors, farmers, etc as equity holders. Thus, every side is represented and nobody is short-changed!
The scheme introduces the food growers as well as food processors to a better infrastructure vis-a-vis longer viability of food items. Besides establishing a direct link between the farms and processing units, the scheme takes care of connecting both of these to the consumers as well through a vast network of centres for collection and primary processing. Needless to say that this amalgamation of interests wouldn’t just take care of food wastage and create employment opportunities but this scheme would also increase the farmers’ income, which, to this day, remains a cause of worry! By linking the agricultural product directly to the market and demand, the stakeholders in the form of farmers, processors, retailers and consumers, ensures unprecedented value addition to the food processing industry. A typical food park would contain collection centres, primary processing units, central processing centres, cold chains and readymade plots on which entrepreneurs can set up their food processing units. All this will happen within a well-defined zone!
In line with the GOI’s vision that includes ‘Make in India and ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’, the scheme also works in consonance with another ambitious project, “Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana.” Since its launch, the country has seen setting up of 22 Mega Food Parks, which are in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Odisha, Punjab, Kerala, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.
Each Mega Food Park is expected to generate at least 30000 jobs.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already promised to double the income of farmers in the coming years. These Mega Food Parks could contribute towards the fulfilment of that promise in a big way. A new report by Bain and Company revealed that in the next few years, technological intervention as well as regulatory changes in the agricultural sector could actually increase the farmers’ incomes two-fold.
The report, titled “Indian Agriculture: Ripe for Disruption”, states that currently, India is the third-largest country in the world to receive funding for agritech sector. With the interventions like the Mega Food Park, this interest is likely to increase further. Parijat Jain, one of the authors of this report, said, “We expect a massive increase in farmers’ income by a twin way of increase in yield and productivity along with reduction of wastage.”
The main aim of the Mega Food Parks Scheme is to reduce food wastage, by processing the food into more viable alternatives and help the products to reach the consumer faster. In other words, these food parks are the right catalyst to stimulate Indian farmers’ growth story.