The Chairman, N.K. Singh, the Members and officials of the 15th Finance Commission today held a detailed meeting with Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Union Minister for Food Processing Industries and senior officials of her Ministry. The Minister presented an overview of the Food Processing sector to the Commission and its contribution to the economy. She detailed the focus of the Ministry and outline the major policy initiatives. The Finance Commission commended the fact that post 2015 a number of important initiatives have been taken up by the Ministry to improve the reach and quality of the Food Processing sector in India, which is walking towards minimizing waste, enhancing farm income and generating value-added activities.The Commission felt that it was of immediate value to complete the ‘Cold Chain Grid’ project of the Ministry and Value Added Infrastructure, which is now under way. This grid could facilitate seedless Cold Chain Infrastructure from Farm to Fork and would require a grant of about Rs. 10 crore per project.
The Commission felt that these are critically dependent on simultaneous reforms in the agriculture sector, long-term contract farming, abolition of APMC and reducing the obtrusive reach of other connected regulations.The Commission was also appreciative of the Ministry’s project “Operation Greens” which is an Integrated Value Chain development of Tomato, Onion and Potato (TOP) Crop and price stabilisation measures. The Commission felt that it was a positive development that Tomato, Onion and Potato are out of the purview of outmoded regulations. The 15th Finance Commission is committed to favourable multipliers on form incomes, skill based employment activity and promoting small and medium enterprises in this growing sector.The Commission was also sympathetic to the Ministry’s suggestions that the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) and Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) wings of the Commerce Ministry should be under the Food Processing Ministry for better and effective management of agricultural and marine processed food exports.