Allowing 100% FDI in marketing food produced in India a welcome move: Harsimrat Kaur

The policy allowing 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in marketing of food products produced and manufactured in India announced in the Union Budget 2016-17, will provide impetus to the food processing sector, benefit farmers immensely and thereby create vast employment opportunities, minister for food processing industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal said.

She thanked the prime minister and the finance minister for approving and announcing the policy allowing 100 per cent FDI in Indian food processing industries.

Interacting with the media to apprise them about the initiatives relating to food processing in the Union Budget announced yesterday, Harsimrat Kaur Badal said this step will lead to creation of ''Swadeshi'' infrastructure with ''Videshi'' money. This will help farmers get remunerative prices for their produce, transfer of technology and modern agricultural practices required for producing agricultural produce on a large scale to meet the requirements of organised marketing.

She proposed the setting up of a unified agriculture marketing e-platform, which will bring markets to the doorstep of farmers. This, coupled with 100 per cent FDI in marketing of food products produced and manufactured in India would result in big buyers reaching out to farmers for their agri-horti produce, she said.

100 per cent FDI will bring in higher efficiencies in food processing industry and trade, and will make our food products more competitive in international markets, the minister pointed out.

In addition to 100 per cent FDI, the budget 2016-17 has announced certain other measures to accelerate the growth of food processing sector. These include:

Budget allocation of the ministry of food processing industries enhanced by 21 per cent against the overall increase of 11 per cent;

Basic customs duty and excise duty has been reduced from 10 per cent to 5 per cent and from 12.5 per cent to 6 per cent, respectively., to promote use of refrigerated containers in the supply chain;

A unified agriculture marketing e-platform will be dedicated to the nation on 14 April this year to connect 585 regulated wholesale markets in the country;

Food processing to play a pivotal role in realising the vision of the government to double farmer's income by 2022

The minister said food sector regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) was insisting upon product by product approval for all foods that do not have standards in the FSS Regulations, 2011. This resulted in delays in launch of new products in the market and was also inhibiting innovation.

She said with help from the health ministry, she said the FPI ministry as well as FSSAI has now approved more than 8,000 new additives harmonised with the international Codex standards.

They have also notified an amendment to the regulations as a result of which non-standardized food products called proprietary foods (except novel food and nutraceuticals) that use ingredients and additives approved in the regulations will no longer require product approval. This has provided considerable relief to the industry, she said.