India's food processing industry could attract an investment of USD 18 billion in the next four years as this sector provides great business opportunity with an annual growth rate of over 8 percent, a top government official said on Wednesday.
Addressing a PHD chamber conference Food Processing Secretary JP Meena said the food processing sector has a great future and can generate huge employment opportunities, besides increasing farmers' income.
He mentioned that the government received an investment committment of USD 12.5 billion in the food processing sector during the World Food India event held last month here.
That apart, Meena said the government has launched a Rs 6,000 crore "SAMPADA' scheme to boost food processing sector and this programme would attract an investment of Rs 31,000 crore or USD 5 billion.
"If these committments are grounded, we will have an investment of USD 18 billion over the next 3-4 years which is a huge investment," the secretary said.
Meena said the ministry's emphasis is to connect food processing industries to production centres and farmers.
The secretary expressed concern that farmers' income and their living standards have not improved even as production has increased over the years.
Meena said the food processing sector could play an important role in increasing farmers' income, but to achieve this, there is a need to connect farmers' demand for raw material with processing units.
He said the country imports many fruits and vegetables even as there is enough domestic supply as processing units do not get varieties and quality they need.
"There is a great future for food processing. But we will have to connect with farmers. If we are able to do this, this will be a win-win situation for both farmers and processors," Meena said.
He said the government would soon launch a scheme to set up mini food parks across the country. Under this scheme, grant up to Rs 10 crore would be provided.