February 1, 2015 4:01:41 am
Almost 30 per cent of the fruits and vegetables produced by farmers is wasted because of lack of food processing units in the state, a senior agriculture department official said.
The state, with a processing capacity of one lakh metric tonnes, has failed to exploit surplus vegetables and fruits produced in local markets because of shortage of infrastructure like cold storages, processing units and lack of technical know-how to enhance varieties of white onion, tomotoes and winery grapes, the official said.
“Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis held a meeting with officials of NABARD and agriculture and horticulture departments to work out a concrete plan to promote the food processing sector in state,” the official said, adding that they were plans to promote the public-private-partnership model to boost food processing and marketing sectors across the state.
When contacted, Fadnavis said, “We will make a coordinated effort to promote the food processing industry, which has a major potential to generate employment through small-scale sectors. The emphasis on value chain will also ensure better remuneration for farmers get and benefits for consumers.”
According to the state government data, only 1.2 per cent of the fruits and vegetables are processed. While 70 per cent of the fruits and vegetables are consumed while they are fresh, there is a huge wastage of 30 per cent.
The main fruits that are available in the state for primary and secondary processing are grapes, pomegranates, cashew, mangoes and oranges.
“While discussing the state’s roadmap pertaining to food processing industry, stress was laid on upgrading the technical know-how for the farmers to encourage them to produce variety of fruits and vegetables which are essential for processing industry and that can withstand the competitive market in the sector,” sources said. It was also suggested that fruits, pulp juice and concentrate units be set up in MIDC areas.
Sources in the finance department said that while there was a massive market for food processing in Maharashtra, the primary concern related to investment. “As fruits and vegetables are perishable items, the returns have been low, which often dissuades private players in the sector,” they said.
The CM has said the state will avail benefits of the central scheme which has huge budgetary provision to promote food processing units. The Centre has spelled out the plans for mega food parks. Currently, the state has planned five food parks at a cost of Rs 406 crore.
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