Clinton backs Indian food processing industry expansion

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food processing, Agriculture, Food security

The upsurge in the Indian food processing industry continues as US secretary of state Hillary Clinton backed government expansion plans and the groundwork was laid to bring overseas expertise to the sector.

Speaking at the National Agricultural Science Centre in Mumbai yesterday, Clinton said the United States wanted India to expand its food processing output and what she called “value added agriculture”.

Key role for India

Her comments came as she told a group of Indian politicians and scientists that the development of India’s agriculture sector was key to providing global food security. She pledged the US government’s support in continuing collaboration over investment in science to increase crop yields but also to bolster the country’s infrastructure to ensure food travels from farm to fork in the most efficient way possible.

“We have to work together, because it's imperative that we invest in the science that will increase crop yields, that we do more to link farms and markets so that farmers can sell their products, that we expand the export of technology and training to bring more assistance to farmers in vulnerable communities,”​ she said.

US support for food processing boost

Clinton praised India’s experience of agriculture as “unsurpassed”​ and that “with only three percent of the world's crop land, India feeds 17 percent of the world's people”.

She added: “We want to improve agricultural productivity. We want to get more of the agricultural dollar into the hands of the farmer. We want India to do more food processing and value-added agriculture. And we are going to be working with India very closely.”

Clinton’s speech echoed sentiments expressed by Indian food processing minister Shri Sahai who recently launched a 100-day action plan to open up to 350 food processing plants to kick-start the sector. He also reaffirmed the government’s goal of trebling the food processing industry’s worth to $215bn by 2015.

“The food processing industry, a sunshine sector of the Indian economy, is the key to transforming India by making agriculture viable and market-driven, ensuring inclusive growth and reducing mass poverty,” ​said Sahai recently.

Memorandum of Understanding

In a separated development, the Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the last few days with a leading Canadian university to collaborate on research and training programmes.

Sahai said the agreement with the University of Manitoba was significant as it paved the way for a broader-based partnership to specifically with the Ministry of Food Processing industries for development on a whole range of processing-related issues.

A statement from the ministry said: “There is a need to prepare a more comprehensive and broad-based MoU between the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India and Government of Manitoba to cover critical issues pertaining to Food Safety and Quality, Food Technology, Food Fortification and Nutrition, Incubation Centres to develop more industries locally and create more employment.”

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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