Union Minister for Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Saturday blamed food wastage as a major cause for inflation and said her target was to reduce this by at least 50 per cent in two years.
On her first visit to the Punjab Agricultural University after taking charge as Union Minister, Harsimrat said, “Food worth Rs 40,000 crore is wasted annually which is almost 18 per cent of total produce”, citing a survey by the Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET).
“Statistics say wastage is 18 per cent, but I know that it is much more. It is because of food processing technologies are not reaching farmers,” she said.
The Minister said the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to “make food a national asset”.
“PM Modi has made it clear that we need to control food wastage. Inflation is there because food is wasted,” she said.
Harsimrat announced that soon a “food map” of India will be prepared. “Work has already started to know that what crop is produced in which area and target is to setup processing units in its vicinity which will save transportation cost.”
The Bathinda MP noted she was engaging the PAU and the CIPHET for providing food processing machinery to farmers in Punjab.
“Punjab is known for its farmers. It is food bowl and processing units need to be opened which are accessible to small farmers. We are engaging PAU and CIPHET to provide food processing machinery to farmers and educate them about it. The idea is to make Punjab a role model state for food processing.”
Opening of mini food parks and adoption of small farmers by industries that could assure them of procuring their produce were other targets, she added.
Harsimrat along with Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal held high-level meetings with experts in theCIPHET and some leading industrialists from food processing industry.