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Mains Test Series

Primary and Secondary Activities

Q. The food processing industry in India has emerged as a boon to the agricultural sector. Discuss.

Answer.

Food processing can be defined as transforming raw agricultural produce into food using chemical and mechanical processes. India’s food processing industries include grains, edible oils, fruits, vegetables, seafood, poultry, and dairy products. The Food processing sector has a quintessential role in the link between agricultural and industrial segment of the economy.

Importance of food processing for Indian agriculture

  1. Labour absorption In India, 50% of labourers are engaged in agriculture and allied sectors. The majority of disguised unemployment prevails in the agricultural and allied sectors. Food processing industries can absorb a major share of workers from agriculture.
  2. Curbing the migration: Food processing industries provide employment in rural areas, reducing migration of rural workforce to urban.
  3. Reduction in post-harvest harvest wastage -Due to adequate infrastructure development that helps to reduce the wastage.
  4. Enhancing farmer’s income – The food processing industry provides an additional channel to market beyond the mandi, where farmers can earn better returns on their crops.
  5. Export opportunities: Processed food products with proper packaging and quality assurance have more significant potential for attention in the international market.
  6. Value-chain linkage: Farmers are directly connected to food manufacturers and sell their products. Value addition through processing increases the increase the economic viability of farming.
  7. Crop diversification processing creates demand for various types of produce, leading to crop diversification. Crop diversification is crucial for soil health, sustainability, and overall growth in agriculture.
  8. Small and marginal farmers will have to integrate into the food processing value chain not as producers but as entrepreneurs.

Challenges faced by the food processing industry

  1. Lack of Research and Development- There is a need to focus on gluten-free and fibre-rich products to cater to health-conscious consumers.
  2. Exist Gap in supply chain management- Inadequate primary processing, storage and distribution. Mostly depends on the APMC market.
  3. Lack of cutting-edge infrastructure- most of the food processing industry operates by small-scale enterprises sector, which lacks the resources needed to upgrade their facilities and machinery to the latest technology.
  4. Demand and supply-side bottlenecks- Most of the processing foods are restricted only to urban areas. Fragmented farm holding produces low productivity. There is a lack of primary processing, storage and distribution at the village level, which results in wastage; due to this, farmers are left small and disperse marketable surplus.

Significant steps taken for the Promotion of food processing industries 

  1. The government of India aims to boost food processing industries by leveraging reform such as 100% FDI through automatic routes and a strong focus on supply chain infrastructure.
  2. Established mega food park and cold chain projects to develop the food processing supply chain.
  3. Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana is the correct initiative to provide funds for cold chain infrastructure.

Way forward-

  • It needs to require good supply chain management practices to boost the economy.
  • New practices and methods are to be developed to increase the quality of processed foods.
  • Draft policy for the development of the food processing sector by addressing the critical gap hampering its growth.

Indian food processing industry is facing challenges at various levels, such as the farm, distribution, and consumer levels. However, the enormous demand for processed food boons the industry to 535 billion dollars by 2025-26, at 22.6% of overall agri-food product exports.

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