'Mega food parks' likely to get SEZ status

The government proposes to extend the tax and other benefits of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) to food parks so that the country could emerge as a regional hub for food processing, Subodh Kant Sahai, minister for food processing industries, told the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

The 'mega food park scheme' presently operates under different set of guidelines framed by the government. In the 11th Plan, the ministry has approved a new scheme to establish 30 mega food parks with a view to provide state-of-the-art infrastructure for food the processing sector in the country, Sahai said in a written reply.

He said this would be done on a pre-identified cluster basis having strong backward and forward linkage and to provide value addition of agriculture commodities, including poultry, meat, dairy and fisheries products, in a demand-driven manner.

The ownership and management of the mega food park would vest with a special purpose vehicle (SPV) in which organised retailers, processors, service providers and farmer groups may be the equity holders. The products of the food processing industries located in a mega food park can be sold in domestic as well as export markets, he said.