Agriculture World

Rejuvenation of Food Value Chain- Need of the Hour

Hitul Awasthi
Hitul Awasthi

India’s food sector has a lot of growth potential in value addition and post-harvest management. A food value chain links producers, processors, marketers, food service companies, retailers and supporting groups. It starts from the conception of product or service, involving different phases of production, delivery to final consumers and ends with the disposal after use. Food value chain is unique as it has implications on health of producers and consumers, livelihood of large number of people and food security of nation, environment in which they are produced or processed, and the commodities involved requires efficient handling and storage due to their perishable nature. Climate change, fragmented landholdings, pests and disease incidence and scarcity of resources have added to the problems in the recent past. 

Recent trends in food sector – 

Government of India allowed 100% FDI through automatic route in food processing sector and 100% FDI for retail trading under government route in 2016. PM Kisan Sampada Yojana with outlay of INR 6,000 crore was launched in 2017, to boost infrastructure development in food processing sector including setting up of Mega Food Parks, integrated cold chain systems, agro-processing clusters, food preservation and food testing laboratories. Promotion of value addition through food processing is a major focus area of the seven point strategy outlined by PM to double farmer’s income by 2020. Food processing helps in value addition of produce, promote exports, provide remunerative prices and prevents wastage. 

Consumer needs – 

Providing safe, healthy and good quality produce to the consumers is the major challenge of food value chain. Lack of traceability of food product along entire food chain, inability to maintain quality of product, communication gaps and involvement of large number of players are the main constrains faced in Indian food value chain. Consumers are now demanding exotic and nutritious products that are of good quality, certified, have less pesticide residues. 

COVID-19 and Lockdown – 

To contain the spread of virus, government locked down the territories and suspended many economical activities. Food supply chain being composed of perishable items, was severely hit during this period. Port closures and logistics hurdles disrupted the supply chains. Employing great proportion of population and sustaining life on most vulnerable sections of the society, it becomes necessary for India to revamp food value chain. 

 

Rejuvenation of Food value chain – 

Steps required for revamping food value chain needs utmost priority. Some steps are – 

1. Most vulnerable sections should be provided with cash transfers and free food supply

2. Open collection centres at farmer’s doorsteps and promote E-commerce of agricultural commodities

3. Encourage more private sector players in food testing and quality control

4. Minimise logistics disruptions so that commodities can move across nations

5. Integration of bio-fortified crops into national nutrition policy will provide impetus to the sector

6. Reduction in taxes, so that the world food trade is kept going

7. Subsidies on the machineries for food processing and value addition

8. Liquidity flow into the food sector and market will help in revamping it

9. Innovations in quality packaging, for safe and healthy foods should be promoted

10. Steps needed to increase farmer’s share in consumer’s rupee earned by sale of food products.

The Indian food value chain is sure to rejuvenate and grow with a greater pace. Government policies and innovative atmosphere will aid in attaining this goal. 

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