CII FARM2FORK: Focus on tech-driven supply chain in food processing sector
New Delhi: With an annual output of 260 million tonne, India is among the largest producers of fruit and vegetables in the world. While horticulture on an average is more remunerative than other crops, cultivation of perishable produce comes with its own set of problems. Over the last couple of years, however, a few organisations have rolled up their sleeves to use technology to introduce supply chain efficiencies into the largely unorganised fruit and vegetable sector.
At the inaugural of the CII FARM2FORK webinar focusing on Food Processing & Agribusiness potential of Odisha, North Bengal and Sikkim, Pratap Chandra Sarangi, Union Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, in his address, said 60 per cent of the economy depends on agriculture which is the backbone of economy. However, during pandemic, this supply chain has been disrupted and the need of the hour is to focus on supply chain for this industry with technical portals. Organic farming is one of the best solutions where capacity building and training is required to enhance with the technology support, he added. According to Sarangi, Food processing, Ayurveda pharmacy, Honey processing and Milk processing can create more employment opportunities in rural areas. He also said the Government is focussing on bringing in rural agri entrepreneurship and industry can lend their support with CSR activities for agripreneurship.
Speaking on the occasion, Rameswar Teli, Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, appreciated CII for the initiative of Farm to Fork organised in collaboration with States of Odisha, West Bengal and Sikkim. The agriculture and food processing sector is taking firm steps forward through Pradhan Mantri Krishan Sampradai Yojna scheme, Teli said. Through this scheme, Teli said, Mega Food Park, Cold Chain, Mini Food Park, creation of backward and forward linkage and operation green are included where Sikkim has one unity scheme and two Food Testing Labs, Odisha has two Mega Food Parks, four cold chains, two unity schemes and four food test labs and West Bengal has one Mega Food Park, 13 Cold chain projects, nine unity schemes and 10 Food Testing labs. He said the NDA Government has introduced a total of 822 schemes in this field, among them, 353 schemes are now operational. Through this scheme, 20.75 lakh farmers would be benefited and 9.39 lakh people would be employed directly and indirectly, Teli said. He called for CII’s help to facilitate the schemes to industry and farmers.
Suresh Kumar Vashishth, Secretary, Department of Agriculture & Farmers Empowerment, Government of Odisha, said agriculture is the most sustainable industry in India and “we all understand how COVID has impacted the overall economy.” Agriculture, according to Vashishth, has to be technology driven. He spoke about the use of Artificial Intelligence that is being applied in some areas of the agriculture sector in Odisha. There is a silver lining in agriculture during COVID, Vashishth said. This is also a challenging time as people are shifting from urban to rural areas and it is time when farmers should be taken as partners and not as the clients, he added. He spoke of FPO being the future of agriculture and Odisha’s focus on Agro processing with the two key areas being post-harvest management and value addition.
Ms Mrinalini Shrivastava, IPS, Commissioner Investment, Government of Sikkim, said Sikkim is the first organic State and Sikkim has a prominent brand in terms of organic products. So the focus now, as per Ms Srivastava, is to go niche and there is a need for agripreneurship and MSME connect for Atmanirbhar Bharat. Sikkim needs to reach out in a collaborative and integrated approach for local market, create volume with States like Odisha for the mutual benefits of the two States, she said.
Manish Kharbanda, Chairman, CII Odisha State Council, Head of Corporate Affairs, CSR, Environment and Sustainability, Jindal Steel & Power Ltd, spoke about the CII FARM2FORK which is a unique platform to exhibit the strengths and potential of important crops, livestock, aquaculture, horticulture, spices & food processing industry of Odisha, North Bengal and Sikkim. FARM2FORK brought together policy makers, researchers, producers and industry leaders to discuss economic, policy and societal issues and create new knowledge and an essential full-chain, global perspective for Agri Business & Food Processing to realise its inherent potential.
Other speakers of the Inaugural Session included Pradeep Purohit, Vice-Chairman, CII North Bengal Council, Ranjit Chugh, Convenor, CII Odisha Agro & Food Processing Panel. The FARM2FORK had technical sessions on “Agri Business Potential- Crops/Spices of Odisha, North Bengal and Sikkim” to focus on Government Initiatives, Crops or Spices, Horticulture and Research Projects- Available Technology and on “Food Processing Potential of Odisha-Aquaculture, Poultry & Dairy, Infrastructure & Allied Services” which focused on Government Initiatives, Schemes Aquaculture, Poultry & Dairy and Research Projects-Available Technology along with focus on the Food & Agri Business support infrastructure like long and fragmented supply chain, cold storage
and warehousing facilities, infrastructure, modern logistics infrastructure such as logistics
parks, integrated cold chain solutions, customised transportation, technology adoption which is the biggest contributor in expanding the food processing and agri business sector in the State and allied services like Online Trade Linkages, Agro Financing, Product Marketing-Forward Market Linkages.