Punjab Food & Civil Supplies and Food Processing Minister Adaish Partap Singh Kairon today instructed senior officers of the department to initiate the process of meetings with the entrepreneurs of food processing industry to redress their grievances. Presiding over the half yearly meeting of State Food Processing Development Council (SFPDC), a primarily advisory body to chalk out the development course of food processing sector in the state, Adaish Pratap Singh Kairon said that availability of quality crops is much desired to boost food processing industry in the state besides resolving the problems of the representatives of industries such as basmati, wheat, milk processing units.
Kairon directed the officer to chalk out a comprehensive plan to ensure the accessibility of quality crop seeds to compete with the international standards. Mr. Kairon mentioned that Punjab Agriculture University must keep in mind the international standards as well as the size and quality of the yield before producing any new rice varieties, so that such verities could be easily exported. He apprised that 33 projects involving grant-in-aid of Rs.19 crore have already sanctioned by the department in the last two years, which involves total project investment of Rs. 55 crores.
Earlier, S.R. Ladhar, Secretary, Food Processing and Mr. Amit Talwar, Convener-cum state Mission Director, NMFP gave introductory presentation of the activities of Food Processing Department and to apprise them about the status of National Mission on Food Processing (NMFP) in the state and other activities undertaken on this front. SFPDC deliberated upon the key areas of food processing specific to the Punjab and the challenges faced by this sector.Dr. Paul Singh Sidhu, currently working with World Bank as Consultant informed that scheme of establishing primary processing centre or collection centre can prove very beneficial for the state of Punjab; Minister Kairon informed that adequate attention also has to be given to the social re-engineering aspects, all these projects bring along.
Dr. B.S. Dhillon, Vice Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana informed about the research work currently undertaken at PAU for the preservation of fruit crops, potato and onions. He stressed upon that institutional strength should be built up to generate quality researchers and economists. Dr. S.S. Marwaha, CEO, Punjab Biotechnology incubator informed that they have been accredited by APEDA for testing and certifying the agriculture produce for exports including basmati.SFPDC also acts as an platform for the industry, research institutes, financial institutions, implementing agencies to coordinate their activities in the direction of unified goals set up for the state. This multi-faceted body comprised research scientists, food processing experts, representatives of industries such as basmati, wheat, milk and regional heads of financial institutes as members. Based upon the deliberation in the forum, valuable inputs are given to central/state ministries to lay down new policies or for making amendments to the existing once.
During meeting, the members of SFPDC also agreed that criteria for allocation of funds under Central Scheme should be linked with agriculture produce and surplus stock rather than based upon area or population. They also suggested to take up with MoFPI to grant ‘Kandi Area’ and ‘Border States’ a special status for allocation of funds.Prominent amongst those, who were present in the meeting included; Mr. Vikram Garg, Secretary, Health Department, S. Jaspal Singh Sidhu, Senior Manager, Nestle India, Mr. B.K. Sood, Director, Fisheries, Mr. Inderjit Singh, Director, Dairy, Dr. Mangal Singh Sandhu, Director, Agriculture, Mr. Suresh Goyal, AGM, SBI and Mr. Survesh Kumar, Project Manager.