Need to Review Food Park Policies
Q. Government has targeted to double farmers’ income by 2022? How realistic is this objective of the Government?
Ans: This is totally possible. In fact, we can achieve more than that. However, there are certain works, which should be done at the ground level. We must acknowledge the fact that in order to double farmers’ income by 2022, we must have good seeds, plants, good market and products.
Even if we practice traditional farming with a little care, then also production will be increased double. If we give more thrust, the production will be increased further. Unfortunately, about 40 per cent of the produce farmers produce are being wasted in India.
When it comes to food processing, we have to increase its contribution to the GDP at a faster rate. The contribution of food processing sector to the country’s GDP is abysmally low, as low as 5 to 6 percent whereas its contribution in the Chinese economy is about 40 percent. It is a matter of great concern. It is not a big deal to double farmers’ income.
Q. What is the biggest challenge for Indian agriculture today?
Ans: The biggest challenge before Indian farmers is that they don’t know what they should grow. If we can fix minimum support price for all the crops, which is not the case today, this will give the farmers opportunity to grow anything of their choices. Initiatives should be taken in this direction. There should be a well-defined MSP policy. Cluster farming should be encouraged. So the income of the farmers will increase. This will also reduce the wastage of the food. This will lead to the prosperity of both the farmers as well as the country.
Q. What is your view on contract farming?
Ans: As I said, if the farmer produces according to the demands of market, then the farmer will get fair price on his produce. What happens, if the farmer once produces excess potato, he is forced to sale at distressed price or to throw on roads? The same thing happens with tomato and onion growers. Also, it is observed, the farmer who works hard earns only 10 Rupees, for example. But you will find the same product is being sold at Rs 40 in the market. It is sad that the middleman earns Rs 30 while the farmer who works day and night earns only rs 10. Time has come to improve the marketing system.
Q. What’s your take on the food-processing sector in India?
Ans: This has to be increased. Otherwise it would be difficult for us to keep pace with the world. There should be a policy in this regard in consultation with the different stakeholders. The earlier the policy is formulated, the better it would be for the country.
Q. Why have food parks failed to take off in India yet?
Ans: It has two reasons. The first one is wrong policy direction. We have the experience of running India’s first food park successfully. I have given some suggestions regarding the food parks.
We are planning to set up five more food parks and we are confident to run them successfully. But according to rule, they don’t give permission to the same organization for opening another food park unless the first one completes three years. Some of the policies are outdated and there is a need for a policy change in order to keep pace with the world.
Q. What is your take on FDI in Indian agri-food sector?
Ans, FDI comes to the country, as there is a market. They (FDI) are not coming to do the social service. They will not work in the best interest of the country. Either we have to surrender them or start working on our own. Only Indians can think of the economic as well as social welfare of the country.
Q. What is your expansion plans?
Ans: We are expanding our operations across the country. We are also thinking of starting operation in Odisha. Keeping the interest of the farmers in mind, we continue to work and expand.