The food Processing Industry sector has received a major boost in Punjab following the sanction of six new cold chain projects by the Food Processing Ministry under the leadership of Harsimrat Kaur Badal. Disclosing this here today, a ministry spokesman said Mrs Harsimrat Badal was keen to leverage the inherent strengths of the dairy, fruit and vegetable sectors in Punjab to add value to the resultant products. Accordingly six cold chains have been sanctioned for all three sectors in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Mohali, Ludhiana and Fatehgarh Sahib.The food processing industry minister said besides adding much needed value to agri products, increasing the income of farmers and boosting exports, the cold chains would also provide employment opportunities to youngsters in rural areas. She said the cold chains would bring in an investment of Rs 156 Crore which would also strengthen the rural economy. Mrs Badal said the focus of the new projects was to provide affordable cold storage facilities in food producing hubs.
She said though cold storage facilities existed in Punjab they were mostly used for potato storage. "We need to move beyond this and create space for high value vegetables and fruits in our cold chains", she added. Giving details, the minister said the food processing ministry was building a national cold chain grid in the country. "This will ensure creation of proper forward and backward linkages and reduce food wastage", she said adding 101 new integrated cold chain projects have been sanctioned across the country. These projects are for fruits and vegetables, diary, fish, meat marine, poultry and ready to eat products, she added. The scheme of Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure provides financial assistance up to Rs. 10 Crore for entrepreneurs. The 101 new integrated projects will leverage total investment of Rs. 3100 Crore for creation of modern infrastructure for the food processing sector. The total expected grant-in-aid to be released to these projects is Rs. 838 Crore.