The state government has taken the decision to float a chain of regional food parks to take ahead its policy of providing minimum support price (MSP) to the farmers across Maharashtra. At present, the state government has shortlisted almost 12 to 14 mega food parks across Maharashtra.
The Niti Aayog has taken the decision to begin consultations with state governments to evolve a comprehensive MSP model which can be financially feasible and workable at the grassroots.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has mooted the concept of incorporating the food park model towards sustainable agriculture and also higher income for the farmers.
The food parks which have been planned spans across Satara, Ahmednagar, Wardha, Nagpur, Nashik, Jalgaon, Latur and Sindhudurg. At the Magnetic Maharashtra last month, the state government held detailed discussions with private players to take ahead the projects with a public-private partnership.
The Centre’s decision to allow 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the food processing sector has given a fresh impetus to the state government.
On Thursday, while launching the first mega food park at Satara, Fadnavis said, “Maharashtra will lead the country in taking ahead the food park projects across the region.”
The food park will play a significant role in taking ahead the government’s reforms for sustainable agriculture, double production and higher income for the farmers, he said.
The state has also made several key recommendations to the Central government for growth in the sector. Apart from the Centre, state reforms to push agro-industries reflect in the incentives taken by state government.
Fadnavis said: “The primary concern for a food park is the high power cost. At commercial rates it works to Rs 8 to 9 per unit. Electricity given to the agriculture sector (farmers), which is heavily subsidised, is
Rs 1.50 per unit. But if the food parks are provided solar feeders, electricity cost will become Rs 2.75 per unit to Rs 3 per unit.” Apart from power, government is using the group farming model to boost agriculture production and income of farmers which it believes could converge with food park projects.
The state government which is working on a legislation to make non-enforcement of MSP a punishable offence to stop the exploitation of farmers by the traders and middle agents, wants to concentrate the food park projects in the 14 districts of Vidarbha and Marathwada which have registered higher farmers’ suicides.
The policy entails long-term planning where food parks in every region can work with farmers and agriculture experts to determine the crop pattern which would be taken in bulk for processing. The advanced use of technology, it believes would help farmers to double their yields and market chains can provide assured higher renuneration.
At Wardha, the government has planned an orange processing unit with Coco-Cola spread over 500 acres of land.
The fruits and vegetables processed in the state does not exceed 1.5 per cent of the overall production. Almost 35 to 40 per cent of the fruits and vegetables are wasted in absence of food processing units in state.
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