Due to a slew of initiatives undertaken by the government, the damages and losses of food grains in India have come down significantly during the course of past five years and now account for less than even one lakh tonnes of the total food grain production, Prof. K.V. Thomas, minister of state (I/C), Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said at an ASSOCHAM event held here in New Delhi .
“About five years back our damages and losses of food grains were to the tune of 2.5 per cent and now when we are managing about 82 million tonnes of food grains, our losses and damages have come down to the level of 0.006 per cent which is less than even one lakh tonnes,” said Prof. Thomas while inaugurating the ‘4th Global Summit on 2nd Green Revolution’ organised by apex industry body The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
“This is one of the major achievements of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) which looks after one of the major areas of food storage and is one of the largest storing agency in the country,” said the minister.
While advocating the grave need for minimising the wastage at all stages of food processing chain Prof. Thomas said “Development of a strong and vibrant food processing industry together with infrastructure for storage, transportation and processing of agro-produce is essential to minimise the wastages.”
Talking about the initiatives taken by the Ministry of Food Processing to promote the industry through developmental and policy measures the minister said that the government is providing assistance to food processing industries under its various schemes, supporting various R&D activities and working towards human resource development to meet the growing demand for skilled manpower and promoting entrepreneurship.
The minister also said that the government is looking towards other areas for addressing the issues pertaining to achieving the food security. “After attaining the self-sufficiency in the food grains production we have now shifted our focus on eastern region of the country which has huge potential to harness ample of natural resources to achieve food security and agricultural sustainability,” said Prof. Thomas while releasing an ASSOCHAM-Yes Bank study titled ‘2nd Green Revolution: Agriculture to Agribusiness’.
Talking about the price support operation of the government and its importance which is aimed at ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers for their produce and incentivising them to produce more, the minister said “MSPs (Minimum support prices) are fixed in a manner which covers the costs of production and ensures a reasonable return to the farmers, besides the MSP operation also acts a cushion to farmers against any sudden drop in market prices in a situation of excess supply.”
Dr. U. Venkateswarlu, IAS, joint secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries also addressed the ASSOCHAM summit and stressed upon the need to introduce certain national goals and adhere to pro-active approach to achieve these goals.
“There is a need to enhance productivity in dry-land farming areas in the 2nd green revolution as area under dryland agriculture in India is over 50 per cent of the total cultivable area in the country,” said the joint secretary.
Amid others who spoke during the ASSOCHAM summit included: Dr. H.S. Gupta, Director, IARI; Mr Anil B. Jain, chairman, ASSOCHAM National Council on Agriculture and Food Security and MD, Jain Irrigation; Mr Girish Aivalli, country head, Food and Agribusiness Strategic Advisory and Research (FASAR), Yes Bank; Mr K.C. Mehra, chairman, ASSOCHAM Knowledge Millennium Committee and Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general, ASSOCHAM.