Promoting the message that "food processed is food saved", union food processing industries minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Saturday had an interactive session with the legislators of the Majha region, highlighting the incentives they could claim from her ministry.
The minister said starting from Punjab, she would cover all agrarian states in the county and sensitise the elected representatives and the appointed officers about the food processing policies. Stressing the need for taking processing to the farm, she drew attention to food wastage during harvesting and transport.
"With agricultural land shrinking, growing more food from less land to feed more people is a challenge," she said.
Food wastage declined market availability and led to price rise, the union minister said. "If we can control wastage by taking the help of food-processing industry, we can control inflation," she stated in her presentation.
Giving the legislators the details of various projects that her ministry financed directly and those that were sponsored centrally, she said the ministry gave away subsidies to the tune of Rs 50 crore for Mega Food Parks and Rs 5 lakh for each meat shop.
She said the scheme aimed at creating a mechanism to link agricultural production to the market by bringing together farmers, processors, and retailers for maximizing value addition, minimising wastage, increasing farmers' income and creating jobs in the rural sector.
Each project under the scheme about cold chain, value addition and preservation infrastructure would receive a maximum grant of Rs 10 crore. The minister called for creating primary processing centres to take the food processing mission to villages.
She said co-operative organisations would be encouraged to take advantage of grants of up to Rs 2.5 crore each for building modern processing centres for milk, fruits, and vegetables.
The other initiatives of her ministry include Rs 2,000-crore special fund for affordable credit to agro-processing units, help desk "investors portal" for prospective investors, training 10,000 people for jobs in seven sectors, and drawing the food map of the country to identify the areas of surplus raw material for processing.
The government will approve 17 food parks in the country over the next few months and give grants for raising modern abattoirs in all major cities of Punjab. The municipal corporations will run these facilities. For streamlining meat production further and maintaining product hygiene, her ministry would give grants of up Rs 5 lakh to each individual meat shop owner to help them create refrigeration facilities.
Cabinet ministers Bikram Singh Majithia and Anil Joshi, mayor Bakshi Ram Arora, and man legislator and municipal councilors attended the presentation.