Food Processing Ministry launches PM FME scheme to help micro-food processing enterprises

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Jun 29, 2020

In line with the Centre’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ initiative, the Ministry for Food Processing has launched the PM Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises (PM FME) scheme with an outlay of ₹10,000 crore.

The scheme, launched on Monday, will assist nearly 2 lakh micro-food processing enterprises with credit-linked subsidy and special focus will be on supporting farmer producers organisations, self-help groups and cottage industries in rural and tribal regions, over the next five years.

The expenditure under the scheme would to be shared in 60:40 ratio between the Central and State governments and in 90:10 ratio with North Eastern and Himalayan States.

One district, one product

Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said, “The Ministry will adopt the ‘One District One Product (ODOP)’ approach and focus on scaling up existing clusters. States will be given complete flexibility in deciding what product needs to be promoted and from which districts,” she added.

These could be perishable or cereal based products such as mango, potato, litchi, tomato, poultry or millet-based products.

Speaking at the launch of the scheme in a virtual event, she said, that there as many as 25 lakh such unorganised small food processing units.

“Nearly 66 per cent of these units are located in villages and about 80 per cent of them are family owned. They face various challenges such as lack of access to institutional credit, to modern technology, do not have requisite marketing and branding skills and lack awareness about quality control,” she added.

“We hope to address these challenges through the launch of this scheme and enable them scale up their businesses in line with the ‘Vocal for Local’ initiative. We believe this will also catapult this sector by bringing unorganised micro food processing units to the organised sector,” Badal added.

The Ministry believes the scheme will generate investments of ₹35,000 crore and help create 9 lakh skilled and semi-skilled jobs.

Operation Greens scheme expanded

The Ministry has also formally announced the expansion of Operation Greens scheme from tomato, onion and potato crops to all perishable fruits and vegetables. Under this scheme, 50 per cent subsidy will be provided for six months for transportation of eligible crops from production clusters to consumption centres and for hiring storage for three months.

“Though we are formally launching this scheme now, we have already got more than 100 applicants for this scheme through the Ministry’s portal,” the Minister added. Badal added that the Ministry is also starting 41 free e-learning certification courses for SC and ST entrepreneurs in the food processing sector.

Swiggy offers Jumpstart Package for restaurant partners to resume operations

Source: ETRetail.com, Jun 16, 2020

BENGALURU: Swiggy on Tuesday said it is offering affordable lending products, training tools, discounted ad spots, and economical food packaging material to help its restaurant partners to open up for business.

The food ordering app has also activated bi-weekly payment options to enable smooth cash flows for partners, it said.

Restaurants have been among the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. At least four out of ten restaurants are looking to shut down as they are unable to support high rental costs, working capital requirements, and staff salaries, ET had earlier reported.

Swiggy said its ‘Jumpstart Package’ will be maximized for restaurants with higher hygiene ratings to incentivize strict adherence to safety and hygiene protocols. A push towards enabling visual assurances for customers through photos and videos of hygiene protocols in play has been integrated into the package.

“Building on these efforts, ensuring business revival, continuity, and growth for restaurant partners will be absolutely crucial to enabling Swiggy and the industry to overcome this challenging phase,” said Paul Varghese, vice-president of Supply at Swiggy.

Order volumes of food delivery apps fell to 35% of pre-Covid-19 levels due to the lockdown. And to get back to business as usual numbers, restaurant aggregators are focusing on hygiene and safety, as well as supporting eateries with sustainable order volumes.

Rival Zomato too has waived all fees from its contactless dining product including payment gateway charge. It also separately raised money to support restaurant partners to disburse employee salaries amid lockdown.

“To revive our business to pre-Covid days, Swiggy is also offering discounts from their end for the outlet, ensuring the highest safety standards as this is a new normal,” said Kanwaljit Singh from Amrit Sweets in Chandigarh. “This has helped us to reduce the cost of doing a business indirectly and better our bottom line.”

India suspends 39 import licenses for refined palm oil

Source: The Economic Times, May 12, 2020

MUMBAI | NEW DELHI: India has suspended 39 licences to import 452,303 tonnes of refined palm oil after a surge in duty-free purchases from neighbours such as Nepal and Bangladesh which are not key producers, government and trade sources told Reuters.

The suspension could reduce India’s palm oil imports in the next few months and pressure Malaysian palm oil futures, but could lift shipments of soyoil and sunflower oil.

“All these 39 licences for import of refined palm oil will be immediately put under suspension,” the government said in circular seen by Reuters on Monday.

India, the world’s biggest importer of edible oil, put refined palm oil and palmolein on a list of restricted items on Jan. 8, although New Delhi later issued licences to import refined palmolein.

Palm oil imports from Nepal jumped 314% to 189,078 tonnes in the fiscal year ending on March 31, while purchases from Bangladesh jumped 500%, the government said in the circular.

The shipments did not attract import tax as both nations are signatories, along with India, of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) that created a free-trade zone in the region.
A rising flow of duty-free edible oils was disrupting trade in India and undermining government efforts to boost oilseed prices with higher import taxes, said Atul Chaturvedi, president of trade body the Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA).

Of the suspended licences, 37 were issued to source the commodity from Bangladesh and Nepal, while two were issued for Indonesian origin, the government added.

Palm oil accounts for nearly two-thirds of India’s total imports of edible oil, mainly sourced from Indonesia and Malaysia.

Indian refiners have long opposed imports of refined palm oil, saying they hurt domestic refiners and oilseed growers.

The suspension is unlikely to cause a shortage of palm oil in Indian markets as consumption has fallen as much as 40% after a nationwide coronavirus lockdown, said Sudhakar Desai, president of the Indian Vegetable Oil Producers’ Association (IVPA).

India’s palm oil imports fell 46% in April from a year ago, provisional data from the SEA shows.

New Delhi received dozens of applications for licences to import refined palm oil after tweaking rules in April, said a government official, who declined to be identified as he was not allowed to speak to the media.

“The market has enough palm oil,” the official added. “We have decided not to allow any import of palm oil and not to give new licences.”

Cabinet gives green light to food processing plan

Source: Bangkokpost.com, Apr 30, 2020

The cabinet on Tuesday approved an action plan for food processing industry development for 2019-27 and a supporting budget of 6.6 billion baht.

According to Rachada Dhanadirek, the government spokeswoman, the action plan aims to upgrade Thailand to become a hub of processed food in Asean and become one of the top 10 food exporters to the global market by 2027.

The goal is to upgrade the processing of targeted food such as rice, fishery products, vegetable and fruits, livestock and biofood as well as beef up food packaging and digital technology to support innovative food.

She said the action plan covers a new entrepreneur incubation programme, value addition to food, job creation and income generation for the food industry.

The plan also centres on developing innovative food to commercial scale; food development and smart packaging development.

The government is also committed to assisting all levels of entrepreneurs to access local and global markets by using existing digital platforms; developing local economy and infrastructure to support entrepreneurs and food tourism as well as upgrading Thai food to achieve world-class standard.

She said the government plans to allocate 6.6 billion baht in nine years, with the private sector likely to contribute an estimated 2.22 billion baht.

The government will also establish a national committee to supervise food processing development to ensure that it aligns with the action plan.

The government aims the food industry to generate 1.42 trillion baht worth of income by 2027, with related food industries such as packaging contributing 4.5 trillion baht and investment worth 48 billion baht a year. Thailand is currently the 11th-largest food exporter in the world market, with food shipments generating US$33.1 billion in 2019, up 3% from 2018.

Food inflation to trend under 4% over the next six months, says JM Financial

Source: The Economic Times, Mar 26, 2020

PUNE: The nation-wide lock-down from March 25 to April 14 is just ahead of the Rabi harvesting season.

“Our extensive interactions with various agri-supply chain players (farmers, agri-mandi dealers, etc.) indicate a limited adverse impact on Rabi crop realisations if the lock-down is lifted by mid-Apr’20, as most crops would trade subsequently and agri supply-chain functioning is ensured and enforced across states,” a research note from JM Financial.

It added: “As we saw in the months after Demonetization, small & marginal farmers usually bear the brunt of price declines, while large farmers with holding capacity can limit their losses. We expect food inflation to come in at sub-4% levels by Jun’20.

Agri-income growth in FY20 should drop to at best low single digit levels (despite our earlier conservative estimates), given the current lock-down and market disruption. A key positive however remains healthy reservoir levels (53% against the 10-year average of 35%) and a likely normal monsoon in CY20, ensuring continued agri-related investments.“

Non-agri income growth was already weak and will be further challenged in the absence of any large support/program by the government. Postponed weddings (in Apr- May’20) and deferred festival-related spending are likely to further impact discretionary consumption, while spending on staples benefits from higher stocking in the period of lock- down.

Rabi sowing is up 10% YoY, with higher sowing area across crops, barring oilseeds. “Our interactions with farmers across states indicate a robust upcoming Rabi crop with limited adverse impact from unseasonal rains (e.g. mustard in Haryana and Punjab). Harvesting in the last few days has been aided by using labour from local villages. Now, with a nation-wide lock-down, harvesting would be delayed by a few weeks.
However, the key concern in rural India is not output, but marketing for their produce. Therefore, a smooth agri-supply chain function (production, mandi, trading, transportation, etc.) across states needs to be enabled, in the absence of which, perishables (fruits & vegetables) in particular would suffer the most,” the note highlighted.

The spread of Covid-19 and fall in crude oil prices has brought down the prices of several agri-commodities by 20-30% globally in the last two months. “While we do not expect a steep decline in the prices of agri-commodities in India, some segments such as perishables (part of horticulture), milk (lack of bulk buying from businesses) and poultry/eggs (lower demand due to falsely-attributed fears) could see price declines. We do not yet expect food inflation to slip into a negative territory as it would be supported by prices of cereals, pulses and some vegetables (potato and onion) over the next few months. We expect overall food inflation to trend under 4% over the next six months, which would give the RBI a headroom for rate cuts,” the study showed.

The nation-wide lock-down and subsequent challenges in agri-marketing are likely to take a toll on rural income growth. “As highlighted earlier, non-agri income growth was already muted because of a weak real estate environment, a drop in economic activity and now a nation-wide lock-down; therefore, rural wages could suffer.

While we expect a financial package/scheme from the government for the rural population in coming days, measures such as allowing up to six months of monthly allotments from PDS to be taken upfront, could help the poor. The proposal (yet to be implemented by states) would also ensure that the high storage levels at the FCI are managed in time for the next round of wheat procurement (likely after the current lock-down is lifted),” noted JM Financial study.

37 mega food parks and 297 integrated cold chain projects sanctioned under PMKSY

Source: The Economic Times, Mar 17, 2020

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) has sanctioned 37 mega food parks and 298 integrated cold chain projects throughout the country to fill in the gaps across the value chain and establishing the cold chain grid, said Rameswar Teli, minister of state for Food Processing Industries, in a reply in the Lok Sabha today.

The MoFPI is focusing on building cold chain infrastructure across the country, for seamless transfer of perishables from production to consumption areas, through the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY).

Apart from the mega food parks and integrated cold chain, 45 projects have been approved for agro processing clusters, 58 projects have been cleared for creation of backward and forward linkages, he said.

Further, 219 projects for creation and expansion of food processing and preservation capacities have been approved in the country he said.

Under operation greens, five projects have been approved and another 150 projects under food testing laboratories.

These schemes aim at arresting post-harvest losses of horticulture and non-horticulture produce by encouraging the creation of cold storages/ primary processing/ and transportation facilities across the country.
These schemes are demand-driven, mostly by the private investors, said Teli. Financial assistance to the eligible applicants is provided against the Expression of Interests (EoI) issued by the MoFPI from time to time, he said.

Mahindra Agri Solutions bets big on organic food

Source: ETRetail.com, Mar 12, 2020

Conglomerate Mahindra Group is studying the possibility of introducing its own brand of organic food to tap into the growing urban market of conscious eaters.

Mahindra Agri Solutions, a group company, may leverage the Mahindra brand to overcome the lack of consumer trust in the authenticity of organic food products.

Developing consumer trust in the authenticity of an organic product and the stark price difference between organic and regular food are the two barriers to the market in India today, said Ashok Sharma, managing director of Mahindra Agri Solutions. The entry of a brand like Mahindra can help develop that trust, he said, meanwhile the price differential will be narrowed as the business scales.

The company has already invested in Mera Kisan, an organic food manufacturing startup, to explore this business. It is aiming to scale to a supplier base of 25,000 farmers over the next three-four years to source at least 2 lakh tonnes of organic food. Presently, it has about 8,000 certified organic farmers in its fold, Sharma said.

“India itself is a big opportunity,” he said, pegging the domestic organic food market at Rs 1000 crore annually. “There is also demand in exports and there also we want to contribute.”

It presently sells its products through partners like Haiko Supermarket and online retailers like Big Basket, Amazon and Flipkart. Mera Kisan on Wednesday signed cricketer Ajinkya Rahane as its brand ambassador. The Indian test cricket team vice-captain also picked up a minority stake in the company.

The Mahindra-backed startup is looking at break-even by 2024 with revenue of Rs 150 crore. Its target is to be among the top three organic food brands in India, according to Sharma.

Mahindra Agri Solutions sells seeds, micro-irrigation systems, agricultural chemicals, and is also one of the leading exporters of fruits from India to European markets.

Food processing ministry grants aid for 10 projects

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Mar 05, 2020

New Delhi: The Food Processing Ministry said on Thursday that grant-in-aid of ₹67.29 crore has been sanctioned for 10 projects worth ₹301.54 crore under the “Agro Processing Cluster Scheme” of the Ministry’s Kisan SAMPADAYojana.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Approval Committee chaired by the Union Minister for Food Processing Industries, Harsimrat Kaur Badal. Read the rest of this entry »

Food processing ministry approves Rs 162 cr under Operation Greens scheme

Source: The Economic Times, Feb 26, 2020

The government has approved Rs 162 crore under Operation Green scheme which has an outlay of Rs 500 crore to stabilize the supply of tomato, onion and potato (TOP) crops and to ensure their availability round the year without price volatility.

The scheme announced in 2018-19 budget aims to enhance value realisation for farmers by targeted interventions to strengthen production clusters and the Farmer Producer Organisations (FPO) and linking them with the market.

Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said five projects have been sanctioned in the country and more were in line for approvals. “The total cost of the projects is Rs 426 crore and the grant we will give is Rs 162 crore,” she said.

Badal added that infrastructure projects for the agro commodities will come in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, Banaskantha in Gujarat and two in Ahmednagar in Maharashtra. “More than 50,000 farmers will benefit with these upcoming projects and it will create 10,000 jobs. Storage of over 90,000 tonnes and over 3.64 lakh tonne of daily processing capacity will be created,” she said.

National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) will be the nodal agency to implement price stabilisation measures. The pattern of assistance will comprise grants-in-aid at the rate of 50% of the eligible project cost in all areas, subject to maximum Rs 50 crores per project. The ministry will provide 50% subsidy on transportation of the crops from production to storage and hiring of appropriate storage facilities.
As part of the long term integrated value chain development projects, the government will help in capacity building of FPOs, quality production, post-harvest processing facilities, agri-logistics, development of markets and creation and management of e-platform for demand and supply management of the crops.

‘Organic food market growing 17% annually’

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Feb 21, 2020

New Delhi: India’s organic food market is growing at 17 per cent annually and has the potential to grow at a faster pace on rising demand for health and wellness food products across the world, Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said on Friday.

Badal and Minister for Women and Child Development (WCD) Smriti Irani jointly inaugurated an organic food festival for women entrepreneurs at Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium here. Read the rest of this entry »