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Saturday, 4 June 2016

Government to allow 100% FDI in food retail: Harsimrat Kaur Badal

NEW DELHI: Food worth Rs 92,000 crore is wasted in India every year because of poor facilities but this wastage will come down sharply with the government's plan to set up numerous agro processing clusters across the country and nod to 100% foreign direct investment in food retail, food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said. The government is also looking at a proposal to set up cold storage in existing mandis across the country for fresh fruits and
vegetables to help farmers, she said. The minister said India's food economy is being transformed with the addition of 32 lakh tonnes of food processing capacity worth Rs 9,000 crore in the past two years, which is expected to reduce wastage by 10%. "Food wastage is a major concern. India has started moving toward zero tolerance of food wastages. The new addition of processing capacity (set up by the mega food parks) will reduce wastage of fruits and vegetables worth Rs 9,000 crore per annum because the same value of these commodities can now be processed," Badal said. 
The minister said 100% FDI in multi-brand retail of "swadeshi food produced and manufactured in India" is a significant step that will generate employment, help farmers and reduce wastage of food. "Food processing is an employment intensive sector and to facilitate investments, a single window facilitation cell has been created to handhold overseas and domestic investors in food processing sector," she said. Earlier, in an interview with ET, Badal had said that she favoured allowing foreign investors the "sweetener" of selling personal care products if they agree to invest in farm infrastructure that would help farmers. She said the guidelines, which had to be issued by the commerce ministry, were likely to be announced shortly. 

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