Monday, January 16, 2012


Aiming for the moon is never a crime but doing nothing to make even an attempt or doing the same shoddily is definitely some thing to be frowned upon. This statement is very relevant when one looks at the Vision Document 2015 prepared and released for public consumption by the Ministry for Food Processing Industry (MFPI) of Government of India (GOI) recently. It has become a fashion for the babus in GOI to write voluminous reports to boast of their achievements and project their future plans from time to time. In the absence of an accountability system that can pull them up for non-performance or under-performance, they get away with practically nothing to show, except more promises, in their progress card. Latest to arrive is the new projections of performance for the next three years in "promoting" food processing in the country. It is intriguing as to why such a document is prepared for a short period of 3 years because only long term targets are normally projected in any vision document. Here is a take on this new pompous report whatever it is worth for!

"Government has prepared Vision Document 2015 for food processing sector. It envisages tripling the size of the processed food sector by increasing the level of processing of perishables from 6% to 20%, value addition from 20% to 35% and share in global food trade from 1.5% to 3% by the year 2015. To realize the targets set for the growth of the food processing sector, 11th Plan Schemes have been restructured with appropriate management/implementation arrangements in Public Private Partnership mode, with strong project implementation capabilities. The core elements of the strategy are better project selection, development and implementation, decentralized cluster based development, particularly for creation of infrastructure and fostering linkages to retail outlets, industry led capacity building and upgradation of standards, integrated food law and science based food standards. During the 11th Plan period out of 30 Mega Food Park projects, Ministry of Food Processing Industries has already approved 15 projects and is in process of approving remaining 15 Mega Food Parks. CCEA approval for the 15 Mega Food Parks has already been obtained and EOI has been issued for inviting proposals. As against 30 Cold Chain projects envisaged for the 11th Plan period, Ministry has approved 10 integrated Cold Chain project out of which 8 have started commercial operation in terms of value addition, reduction in wastage and enhancement in farmer's income. In the second phase, 39 projects of integrated Cold Chain have been approved. In case of Modernization of Abattoir, 10 projects have been approved. Under the scheme for Technology Upgradation/ Establishment/ Modernization of Food Processing Industries, a total of 2532 units have been assisted. Under the scheme of Quality Assurance 22 Food Testing Labs have been assisted and 14 units under HACCP/ ISO certification have been assisted. Under the Human Resource Development Scheme, assistance has been provided to 33 units, 140 Food Processing Training Centre (FPTC) and 805 Entrepreneurship Development Programmes (EDP) for creation of infrastructure facilities. Under the Institutional Strengthening, the NIFTEM, IICPT, IGPB and NMPPB have been established to give further impetus to the development of food processing sector".

One wonders whether any body in the GOI has made any effort to evaluate the past promises made and the extent of fulfilling them before allowing the Ministry to make further tall claims. While inspired reports and glossy publications from the GOI and friendly media praise the past developments in this sector, for a dispassionate observer nothing much has changed in the food processing sector during the last two decades of existence of this specialized Ministry set up with lot of hope. While the setting up of the "paper tiger" FSSAI is touted as a big achievement, the ground reality is that this has happened in spite of the working of MFPI. The statistics doled out in the so called vision document lacks credibility if ground realities are seen with most small scale food industries languishing in the country while the unorganized sector is thriving, churning out sub-standard foods with practically no help or guidance forthcoming from GOI. The progress, if at all any, is due to major branded products coming out from the stables of multinationals and domestic giants who any way do not need government prop!.


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