INDIA – The central government is working to make India not only a global food factory but also a global food market, Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said here on Wednesday.

“We think we are capable of becoming a global food market. For this, we need to adopt the best of technologies,” Badal said in her keynote address at a seminar on “Belgian Innovative Contributions in Shaping India’s Future as a Global Food Player”.

Organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry in partnership with Flanders Investment and Trade, the seminar was attended by, among other high profile dignitaries, Belgium’s King Philippe and industry leaders from India and Belgium.

The Minister said whether it is food production or food consumption, India is a market that “nobody across the globe could afford to ignore” for the sheer opportunities the country offers.

“On one side, we have a raw material base, on the other, we have a retail sector of $600 billion, which is set to treble by 2020. And 70 per cent of this 1.3 trillion dollar sector is food sub-sector. The demand for food is going to increase in India by 50 per cent over five years,” she said.

She said India may be the largest producer of food, but it processes a mere 10 per cent of its produce, which consequently leads to very high wastage.

“In a country with growing population and shrinking land for producing food, food wastage is a major area of focus for our government, and hence zero tolerance towards food wastage is one of the targets of my ministry,” Badal said.

“In three years, we have worked hard to create an environment where food processing industry may progress and flourish. We are creating a corpus where credit at cheaper rate may be given to food processing sector to incentivise creation of infrastructure through the ministry,” she added.

Stressing that Belgium’s advanced technology can be put to good use in India, the Minister invited the Belgian industry to come and “use Indian material and export finished products to other countries”.

She said that during the three-day World Food India 2017 event from November 3 in Delhi, close to $18 billion in investment was “either transacted or committed”.

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