The Central government will soon give its nod for smaller food parks and also announce the setting up of 100 cold chain projects, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister for Food Processing Industries, said on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference on her Ministry’s achievements in the last two years, Badal said that the government will also announce a ‘Sampada’ scheme focussing on agri-cluster development. All the three decisions will be made in the current fiscal year, she added. Moving toward ‘zero wastage’, the Food Processing Ministry said in two years it has created infrastructure capacity worth ₹9,000 crore to process 32 lakh tonnes of perishable fruits and vegetables and reduce wastage by 10 per cent a year. According to an estimate, food worth ₹92,000 crore is wasted in India, and perishables account for 16 per cent of this. Badal said this was primarily due to her piloting 100 per cent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail of “swadeshi” food or such food that is produced and manufactured in India. Incidentally, in July 2014, blaming food wastage as a major cause for inflation, Badal had aimed to cut wastage by 50 per cent in two years.

She said one of the major steps, along with the creation of ‘huge’ capacity, was the plan for 37 mega food parks and 134 cold chain projects. Under the mega food park scheme, which began in 2008, eight have been operationalised, including Ramdev’s Patanjali. Of these, six parks took off in the past two years, she said, adding that the Centre had given a grant of ₹800 crore for this purpose.

Since September, 24,084 persons have been trained in the food processing sector under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, the Ministry said. It also launched a mobile app for ‘ease of doing business’, making it easier for entrepreneurs to avail a special fund of ₹ 2,000 crore set up in NABARD to boost agro processing units in designated food parks. 

FSSAI factor In a reply to a query on challenges faced by the food industry due to product approvals by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the Minister said in the past getting approval for each product used to take one to two years and faced delays, which has now changed. “Earlier only 375 ingredients standards were harmonised by international standards, now about 8,000 ingredients standards have been harmonised and they are planning to take this number to about 12,000 ingredients,” Badal said. On health scares, such as on instant noodles and bread, a senior official said FSSAI, with which the Ministry was “working closely”, will soon issue a notification removing potassium bromate from the list of permissible additives.