HindustanTimes Sat,01 Nov 2014

NDA plans ‘food grid’ to move produce

Zia Haq and Gaurav Choudhury, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 05, 2014
First Published: 13:04 IST(5/7/2014) | Last Updated: 13:08 IST(5/7/2014)

The NDA government has begun working on a plan to set up a “national food grid” to move fruits and vegetables from surplus zones to deficit areas quickly by ramping up storage and processing, as it hunts for a long-term solution to reduce food prices.

The idea is still being envisioned in the food processing ministry, which will anchor the plan and experts could be drafted in to come up with an incubator model.

Essentially, it will have to be a system to facilitate sorting, grading, storage, movement and tracking of food stocks in an integrated “grid”, comprising a series of food processing centres and cold storage chains linked to an IT-enabled system.

“As a first step, we are preparing a food map to find out which parts grow what commodities that can be preserved and what foods cause inflation,” food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal told HT.

A “food grid” is in principle akin to a power grid that speedily allocates power according to demand. An ambitious plan, it will require a multiministerial effort.

Badal said cold storages would have to be an essential part of the grid and during seasons of a glut, commodities such as onions could be “dehydrated” and made purees to be supplied to institutional buyers, such as the defence establishments and mid-day meal operators. This will lower the overall demand for fresh onions and keep prices affordable, she said.

Although India’s food processing industry accounts for 32% of the total food market, only 2-3% of India’s vegetables are processed into various products to increase their shelf life.

“Cold storages suffer from many problems such as electricity shortage. Gas as a fuel is expensive,” Badal added.

The ministry plans to propose linking cold storage projects to agricultural credit, since lack of viability has kept investments low.

comment Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of
blog comments powered by Disqus
more from Chandigarh

New Delhi, 1984. New York, 2014.

In my parent’s bedroom is a framed photo that seems a bit out of place. The small image has an aged yellow tint and displays my father at the young age of 24, standing proudly atop the GB Pant Hospital in New Delhi, India. He looks just as I do now. Tall, skinny, his not-yet full beard kept neatly on the sides of his jaw as he sports a clean pair of glasses and a neat turban matching his shirt. That year (1984), my father was in his medical residency pursuing a specialty in anesthesiology. His eyes shine of dreams of the success that would come from his hard work in the future. However, what could not be captured in the photograph is what my father had seen in that year, 1984. Writes Manmeet Singh Gujral
Copyright © 2014 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved