Food park inaugurated in Punjab to benefit 25000 farmers and create 5000 jobs

Source: The Economic Times, Nov 24, 2020

Food Processing minister Narendra Singh Tomar inaugurated a mega food park (MFP) at Phagwara in Kapurthala district of Punjab that will benefit 25,000 farmers and create 5,000 jobs, an official statement said. “Punjab and Haryana have significant role in development of agriculture sector of India. This MFP built at project cost of Rs 107.83 crores and spread over 55 acres of land is expected to benefit about 25000 farmers,” he said. Till date, 37 MFPs have been sanctioned and 20 have already started functioning.

Tomar added that due to untiring efforts of farmers of these two states, India is not only self reliant in food grains but is food surplus. He said that Punjab has been ahead in production of rice and wheat however, due to reduced ground water levels, diversification of crops is required for which Punjab farmers have taken several steps.

“Food processing sector needs to be focussed upon so that farmers get fair prices and related sectors can also benefit,” he said in a statement. The Sukhjit mega food park is equipped with warehouses, silos ,cold storage, deep freezer and other related food processing facilities.

Tomar said that the government is continuously working for welfare of farmers under leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A Rs 10,000 crore fund has been created under Aatmanirbhar Bharat, for development of food processing sector which will benefit farmers and create employment opportunities, he said. Rameswar Teli, MoS, food processing, said that latest technology and processing facilities will reduce wastage of food products and ensure fair prices for farmers.

Govt moves to revamp the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India

Source: The Economic Times, Oct 02, 2020

NEW DELHI: The Centre has moved to revamp the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the prime regulatory authority for food safety in India, giving it more powers, extending its jurisdiction over animal feed, enhancing penalties imposed for violations and simplifying processes.

The ministry of health and family welfare has framed Food Safety and Standards (Amendment) Bill 2020 and introduced 70 amendments in the 2006 Act to revamp FSSAI functioning and its jurisdiction. With the amendments, the government has proposed to bring regulation of animal feed industry under FSSAI. So far, the regulatory body had powers on food industry. In the 2006 Act, an amendment is proposed which would include, “It is expedient in the public interest that the Union should take under its control the food and animal feed industry.” The government has included a detailed definition of animal feed. Apart from animal feed industry, the government has also decided to specify standards for “food contact material”, which would mean specifying standards for food packaging material.

The government has also proposed to make the Act more stringent prescribing enhanced penalties for violations, including manufacture and sale of unsafe food, adulteration of food causing death, carrying out business without licence and repeat offences. The amendments propose enhancing maximum fine for manufacturing and sale of unsafe food from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 3 lakh. A new section has been introduced to define penalty for adulteration of food causing death or grievous hurt. In case unsafe food causes “harm to body which amounts to causing grievous hurt even if it does not cause actual injury”, the punishment could extend upto life imprisonment.

The move comes six years after the Modi government had withdrawn a similar Bill introduced by Congress-led UPA in Rajya Sabha in February 2014. The NDA government had withdrawn it after a Cabinet decision in December 2014 and decided to bring a more comprehensive Bill to address systemic issues and incorporate rulings of Supreme Court and Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court. The ministry of health and family welfare would now invite suggestions on the draft Bill.

The government has also proposed to appoint a chief executive officer at FSSAI as member secretary to oversee functions. So far, the role had not been defined. A big change proposed is the vesting of powers of appointment of members with Central government. Earlier the Act said that chairperson and members would be selected by the Centre on recommendations of the selection committee. Now, there would be no role of a selection committee in appointment of members.

The government also proposes to simplify the process of serving notices to a food business operator, who is running unsafe restaurants or any other establishment. A long winding process has been shortened.

Final approval given to 37 mega food parks: Ministry

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Sept 15, 2020

New Delhi: The Food Processing Ministry on Tuesday said that so far it has given final approval to 37 mega food parks in 23 States and UTs and are under various stages of implementation.

In a written reply, the Ministry informed the Lok Sabha that 19 mega food parks out of the 37 are currently operational and that the government had envisaged a total of 42 mega food parks.

“This scheme is now a component of the new Central Sector Umbrella Scheme– Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY). The Mega Food Park Scheme (MFPS) aims at providing modern infrastructure facilities for food processing along the value chain from farm to market,” it added.

As per the scheme guidelines, each fully operational mega food park will provide direct/indirect employment to 5,000 persons. The schemes aims to have a positive impact on increased realisation of farmers, reduction in wastage and creation of an efficient supply chain backed by collection centres, primary processing centres and logistic infrastructure, the Ministry added. The scheme provides for a capital grant at the rate of 50 per cent of the project cost (excluding land cost) in general areas and at the rate of 75 per cent of the project cost (excluding land cost) in difficult and hilly areas — North East Region including Sikkim, J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and ITDP notified areas of the States subject to a maximum of ₹50 crore per project.

Indo Nissin Foods to set up its largest manufacturing unit at Khurda Food Park

Source: ETRetail.com, Aug 27, 2020

BHUBANESWAR: Japanese food processing giant Indo Nissin with its brands like Top Ramen has decided to set up its second unit at Khurda food park, which will be their largest unit in India, said an official statement, said an official statement issued by IPICOL.

The company announced its expansion plan during a webinar organized by Invest India on food processing opportunities in Indian states on Wednesday.

“The decision of investing in Odisha was the best investment decision we have taken in our 30 year history. We have one of the best manufacturing efficiencies at Odisha which is a benchmark for us,” said the statement quoting Gautam Sharma, managing director of Indo Nissin Food.

Details of the investment potential, capacity and employment opportunities for the expansion of its plant have not been cited. Indo Nissin has already been operating from Khurda food park for past several years.

State MSME minister Dibya Shankar Mishra also attended the webinar and highlighted the advantages of Odisha for growth of food processing sector, which is also one of the six focus sectors of the state

Mega food park launched in Mizoram, to benefit 25,000 farmers and create 5,000 jobs

Source: The Economic Times, Jul 20, 2020

New Delhi: Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal launched a food park in Mizoram that will benefit 25,000 farmers and create 5,000 jobs, an official statement said.

“The park will leverage an additional investment of about Rs 250 crore in about 30 food processing units in the park and would eventually lead to a turnover of about Rs 450-500 Crores annually,” she said in the statement.

Badal said that in the last six years, 88 projects including 7 in Mizoram, have been initiated for north-eastern India with an outlay of Rs 1000 crore by her ministry which will directly benefit 3 lakh farmers and will provide job opportunities to 50,000 youth from the region.

The minister for development of the north-eastern region, Jitendra said that Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has accorded highest priority to the region in the last 6 years and the changed the work culture with micro attention to the needs and aspirations of the region.

Singh said the park would help double the income of farmers in the area by doing away with the middlemen. He said nearly 40% wastage of fruits in the absence of any processing unit. He said, the North-East Region has the potential to become the Organic Destination of the world due to its rich agricultural and horticultural produce. He informed that Sikkim has already been declared as an organic state.

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.