Sahay calls on Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh to frame contract-farming law

Union food processing minister Subodh Kant Sahay has called for a clearly outlined law on contract farming from Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh, a step they need to take to pave the way for third party investment.

Interacting with investors interested in investing in food processing industry, Sahay said agriculture was earlier the only industry and commanded high priority but now it is the last on priority. He added that only third-party investments could ensure introduction of technology and increasing productivity.

He called for a return of focus to the farm and post-harvest industry in the states and added that a new policy with focus on new age industries like food processing and post-harvest handling was required in Orissa and neighbouring states.

The minister said India was losing Rs50,000 crore worth of food produce due to the absence of post-harvest management which needed to be plugged.

''I have presented before the empowered committee on GST to keep the tax rate in the range of 0 to 4 per cent for the food processing industry - zero for the perishable items and a maximum of four per cent on non-perishable goods. This will help mobilise investment into the industry,'' said Sahay, addressing the investors meet jointly organised by the ministry, Indian Chamber of Commerce and Orissa government in Bhubaneshwar yesterday.

Sahay said the only way to push the agriculture sector was through marketable farming, which would be possible only through deployment of improved technology. He added that increased investment would lead to clusterised farming which was the future as it would make farming market-driven.

''When India passed through a difficult phase of recession, food processing was the only industry which did not see any lay-off and instead recorded a 14 per cent growth.''