India’s food processing industry is one of the largest contributors in the economic growth of the country. The food processing industry creates a direct linkage between the rural economy and the industry. In comparison to other agriculture centred nations across the world, India is the largest producer of millets, milk and livestock, and ranks second in the production of vegetables, fruits and fisheries. India’s food processing sector is growing at a stupendous rate and is the largest in the world and is projected to reach $35 billion by the year 2025-26.
The Ministry of Food Processing Industries is committed at improving and increasing the food processing capacity of various commodities, and also reducing loss of agriculture produce after harvest. The ministry has introduced a variety of reforms focusing at strengthening the infrastructure of the sector. Ben & Gaws legal explains that in this regard, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries in congruence with the central government has announced several reforms or initiatives such as unified agricultural market, farm gate infrastructure, mega food parks etc. Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada is a comprehensive package scheme launched by the Ministry that aims at creating modern infrastructure with efficient and effective supply chain management ranging from farm gate to the retail outlet.
The Mega Food park scheme is designed and formulated with the aim to provide a mechanism to directly link the agricultural produce to the market. The scheme aims to achieve it by bringing closer and bridging the gap between the farmers, processors and retailers. The scheme is categorically designed to increase value addition, minimise wastage, and amplify the income of the farmers and create livelihood opportunities, especially in the rural areas. Based on the ‘cluster’ approach, the mega food park scheme envisions creation of the state-of-the-art infrastructure in state-defined horticultural zones. These parks are equipped with modern food processing amenities and units and boast of well-established market linkage and supply chains. Ben and Gaws legal expands that these mega food parks usually consist of supply chain infrastructure ranging from collection centres, processing centres, to cold chain and storages.
Currently, there are 22 Mega Food Parks operational in the country:
1. Srini Mega Food Park in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh
2. Godavari Mega Aqua Park in West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh
3. North East Mega Food Park in Nalbari, Assam
4. Indus Best Mega Food Park in Raipur, Chhattisgarh
5. Gujarat Agro Mega Food Park in Surat, Gujarat
6. Cremica Mega Food Park in Una, Himachal Pradesh
7. Integrated Mega Food Park in Tumkur, Karnataka
8. Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA) Mega Food Park in Palakkad, Kerala
9. Indus Mega Food Park in Khargoan, Madhya Pradesh
10. Avantee Mega Food Park in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh
11. Paithan Mega Food Park in Aurangabad, Maharashtra
12. Satara Mega Food Park in Satara, Maharashtra
13. Zoram Mega Food Park in Kolasib, Mizoram
14. MITS Mega Food Park in Rayagada, Odisha
15. International Mega Food Park in Fazilka, Punjab
16. Sukhjit Mega Food Park in Kapurthala, Punjab
17. Greentech Mega Food Park in Ajmer, Rajasthan
18. Smart Agro Mega Food Park in Nizamabad, Telangana
19. Tripura Mega Food Park in West Tripura, Tripura
20. Patanjali Food and Herbal Park in Haridwar, Uttarakhand
21. Himalayan Mega Food Park in Udham Singh Nagar, Uttarakhand
22. Jangipur Bengal Mega Food Park in Murshidabad, West Bengal
These Mega Food Parks are a boon for farmers who have not been getting adequate prices for their produce because of a variety of reasons that include lack of infrastructure support like cold storages, warehouses for storage of grains, and ripening chambers for fruits. The Mega Food parks offer a comprehensive and consolidated, one place solution to all of these above mentioned problems. These integrated and well connected food terminals provide solutions using state-of-the-art technology. Organisations like Ben & Gaws have been assisting the government in the scheme by manufacturing grain silos for storage of grains at these food parks.
These food parks also help save the farmers from the middlemen and exploitation by the traders. The parks allow all farmers, small, marginal, medium and large farmers equal opportunities to market their produce directly. This reduces their unwarranted merchandising stress and logistic troubles.
Almost 58% of India’s population is agrarian in nature, and this calls for focused attention towards improving the socio-economic condition of the farmers. Schemes like the mega food parks can offer farmers the best chance to sell their produce directly to the companies at their desired prices, without the hassle of middlemen or traders. In a country whose economy is largely driven by agriculture and its allied sectors, such innovative and scientific solutions to agrarian issues is the way forward.