17 July:The Agriculture and Food Processing are very important sectors of the Indian Economy in terms of natural resources base and manpower availability. India holds tremendous advantages in agriculture for processing and value addition, contributing 19 per cent of India’s GDP. Speaking at the Summit on Processed Food – Advantage India 2008 “Feeding Global Business Opportunities”, Shri Subhodh Kant Sahai, Minister for Food Processing Industries said that it presents a huge growth opportunity for the country. The Confederation of Indian Industry(CII) has organized the Summit. He further said that Food Processing Sector is a tax less sector, within four years the taxes have come down from 40 per cent to 5 per cent.
The Ministry of Food Processing is expanding specific initiatives to bring the food processing sector in line with other booming sectors like automotive and IT. The Ministry has brought in integrated food law, thereby paving the way for merger, amendment as well as repealing 15 separate laws that currently govern the country’s food sector. This law also proposes to empower a single authority to implement the integrated law. Further, the total outcome of the 11th Five Year Plan would be coming in shortly.
Talking about the various incentives available for the new ventures he said that the Government is making investor-friendly policies, which are tax-free to woo the investors. The government grant has been decentralized so that one can avail the benefits from the same bank via a single window. Consequently, it saves the investor’s time. Minister further added that there is no licensing for the first five years and only 25 per cent after that.
Highlighting the potential of the sector Shri Sahai said that it could provide income generation opportunities for 70 per cent of the country’s population.
The Government has introduced many initiatives to increase the level of food processing percentage from the present low levels. The initiatives include:
• Automatic approval to Foreign Direct Investment upto 100 per cent equity in FPI sector excluding alcoholic beverages and a few reserved items.
• Fruits & vegetables products, condensed milk, ice cream, meat production, fish/poultry, pectins, pasta, dairy machineries completely exempt from Central Excise Duty.
• Customs Duty on Packaging Machine reduced.
• Central Excise Duty on meat, poultry and fish reduced to 8 percent.
• Income Tax rebate allowed for new industries in fruits and vegetables.
• Institutional & Credit support
• Food parks approved to enable small and medium food and beverage units to set up and to use capital intensive common facilities such as cold storage, warehouse, quality control labs, effluent treatment plant, etc.
Indian ethnic food items are very famous all over the world. The country not only produce ethnic food products but also produce Chinese, French, Japanese, Thai and other international cuisines with same quality and taste, as their home country.
Domestic and global markets, quality and safety have become critical requirements for enterprises producing foods and providing food related services. The concept of food safety and quality is important for all stakeholders starting from the farmers to the processors, to the retailers and to the consumers. There are large number of Indian and overseas buyers for the Food Processing Sector.