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Sahai calls for investment in food-processing

By The Assam Tribune

ITANAGAR, May 1 � Asking the farmers and NGOs to take the advantage of grant schemes of his Ministry for setting up units, Union Food Processing Minister Subodh Kant Sahai today said this could augment the income of the farmers manifold and solve rural unemployment problem.

Investment in food processing creates more jobs than equal investment in other industries, Sahai, who was the chief guest at a meeting of investors from different parts of the country, said. Besides, such venture saves 30 per cent produce from going waste, he said.

�Yet the banks show general apathy to requests for loans from food processing units and prefer to lend money to corporate and business houses�, Sahai rued.

Referring to the huge grants of his Ministry for different schemes, Sahai said his Ministry has given special emphasis to North East and offered 75 per cent grants for setting up food processing infrastructure, subject to a cap of Rs 50 crore each.

For setting up an industrial unit, a 33 per cent grant is available with a limit of Rs 50 lakh.

The Union Minister said while West Bengal Government is pondering whether to allow corporate farming, Arunachal has �a wonderful industrial policy� which allows contract farming with 50 years lease of land and 99 per cent tax holiday.

However, despite such a policy and immense potential to become a �Citrus State� his Ministry received only one proposal from Arunachal for setting up food processing industry in the past five years, Sahai said.

�I have directed my Ministry to work out a detailed project in coordination with Arunachal for different agro-climatic zones in the 66,000 sq kilometre available forest areas, a processing hub for oranges and other fruits grown abundantly but going waste because of transport bottlenecks, non-availability of cold chain�, he said.

Sahai said his Ministry also offers grants for starting diploma, degree and masters courses in food processing in colleges and for conducting research.

The Secretary, Union Ministry of Food Processing Ashok Sinha said the Ministry will organise similar meet in all the Northeastern States to address the specific problems of each State. This was the second meet after the one held in Agartala in February. � PTI

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