Food processing sector low on Centre’s priority list?

As many as 434 proposals for setting up agro-processing clusters were received from the state and entrepreneurs since 2017-18 till 2022, but the ministry of food processing industries cleared only 80 of them

food processing sector

New Delhi: The food processing sector seems to be low on the Central government’s priority. The tardy process of clearance of the proposals for creation of the agro-processing clusters in various states by the ministry of food processing industries (MoFPI) sums up the scenario.

The Central government had launched an ambitious scheme–Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojna (PMKSY)–for creation of modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail in 2017. Accordingly, the states were asked to submit the proposal for setting up agro-processing clusters. However, only 80 out of 343 proposals for agro-processing clusters could be cleared by the MoFPI under the PMKSY till date.

Officials said that the PMKSY was launched with a view to doubling the farmers’ income, by providing linkages to their farm products to the market. However, the procedural wrangle in getting the projects cleared by the Centre and receive the financial incentive has demotivated the farming community and the stakeholders.

Though minister of state for food processing industries Prahlad Singh Patel on Friday claimed that over 18 lakh farmers have benefitted from the PMKSY since its inception, officials said that the number of beneficiaries could have grown many times had the ministry been sincere in clearing the projects received from the state governments.

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The scheme aims at providing a big boost to the growth of food processing sector in the country, help in providing better prices to farmers, creating huge employment opportunities especially in the rural areas, reducing wastage of agricultural produce, increasing the processing level and enhancing the export of the processed foods.

In a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, Patel said that the ministry had received as many as 4026 project proposals (from various state governments and entrepreneurs) under various sub-schemes of PMKSY have been received during the period from 2017-18 to 2022-23. Out of these, 1002 have been approved as on December 16 this year.

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Likewise, as many as 434 proposals for setting up agro-processing clusters were received from the state and entrepreneurs since 2017-18 till 2022, but only 80 of them were approved by the ministry. There were 66 proposals for establishment of agro-processing clusters from Maharashtra and only 14 of them were given the final go ahead. Bihar had sent five proposals against which only one was approved.

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