Food value chain offers great investment opportunities: Prez

New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind addressing valedictory session of the World Food India 2017, in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI Photo by Vijay Verma (PTI11_5_2017_000050B)

New Delhi, Nov 5- India’s food consumption is likely to touch USD 1 trillion by 2025 and the country’s entire food value chain offers huge opportunities for both domestic and foreign investors, President Ram Nath Kovind said today.

It is a sector with “large business appetite” and has potential to generate employment for both women and large young population of India, he said.

Focusing on food processing will not only reduce “unacceptable level” of food wastage but also help doubling farmers’ income, he added.

Speaking at the valedictory function of the World Food India, Kovind said, “Food is culture – but food is also commerce. India’s food consumption is currently valued at USD 370 billion. It is expected to reach USD 1 trillion by 2025, in less than a decade. There are opportunities across the entire food value chain in India.”

There are huge opportunities in areas such as post-harvest facilities, logistics, cold chains, and manufacturing, he said, adding that this is a major area for attracting domestic and foreign investment.

On a global scale, the market for Indian food products is massive, he said and added, “It extends from 1.8 billion people in South Asia to a 30 million strong diaspora population, and to millions more in all parts of the world.

“As such, the opportunities in the Indian food industry should give you much to chew about. Please digest. And invest,” he added.

Stating a focused emphasis on modern food processing can change things, the President said both investment as well as technological solutions are required to reduce food wastage which at present are at regrettable levels.

For instance, close to 16 per cent of India’s guava crop is wasted, as are 10 per cent of the country’s mango and apple crops, he added.

The President further said that the industry can be a huge employer and this is of utmost importance for India which has huge youth population.

Since women are deeply involved in the food sector especially in rural areas, he said there is a great potential for women to emerge as micro-entrepreneurs and raise overall female participation in the workforce.

Exuding confidence that India can produce food products for both domestic and global markets, he said, “This would insulate both farmers and consumers from price shocks, and go a long way in ensuring remunerative incomes for the agricultural community.”

Terming the mega food event as ‘Kumbh mela” of Indian food, the President said that the outcome of the three-day event should lead to a time-bound plan to reduce if not eliminate crop wastage in the country.

The President also gave away awards to best start-up firm Oak Analytics and the winner of a Hackathon challenge — a team of students from Coimbatore-based Kumaraguru College of Technology.

He said one of the start-ups has adapted Raman Spectroscopy, the discovery of India’s very own Nobel Prize winning scientist Dr C V Raman, into a low-cost hand-held device that can instantly detect food adulteration. This technology can save billions in food fraud.

The President also highlighted about increasing stress on food safety, accurate labelling, intellectual property issues and innovation in the food processing sector.

He also talked about how organic foods, which India has been growing since ages, are coming back in the market after repackaging in other countries.

On diversity of India’s food culture, the President said there are 29 states in India – and may be 290 different recipes for biryani or khichdi.

“From Taenga in Assam to Sarson ka Saag in Punjab, from the Dhokla in Gujarat to the Dosa in Tamil Nadu and other states of the South, there is so much to choose from. I would say that one human lifetime is not enough to experience the range and richness of Indian food!”

Citing examples how Indian food been adapted to local tastes abroad, he said, Butter chicken can be found from Brazzaville in Congo to Berlin in Germany.

The principal snack in the African country of Djibouti is a variation of samosa. Even Japan’s tempura style is said to have been inspired by the Indian fried pakora, he added. PTI LUX