Anne-Marie Idrac, French Foreign Trade Minister, tabled the proposals and stated that the Indian agro-food showed huge potential that had yet to be tapped.
She said that India currently processed just three per cent of its total agricultural output and 35 per cent of its dairy produce - compared to a headline figure 70 per cent in France.
India’s food processing industry faced a number of challenges including the need to improve infrastructure, packaging, quality control and testing facilities, said the French minister, speaking at an interactive session organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
“We have been through all that in France. Our companies’ experience and expertise can probably help you,” added Idrac.
The minister, who was heading up a delegation from France that included business leaders, said French firms were eager to forge partnerships in India as part of a move to strengthen ties between the Franco-Indian agro-food sectors. Later this year an Indian food processing delegation will visit Paris and have meetings with various French food processing companies, said Idrac.
French food park
She suggested that France and India set up a joint working group that should focus on co-operation between public and private agencies on issues such as policy framework and standardisation of food safety, quality and traceability guidelines. Studies should also be undertaken on the supply cycle methods of crops and cattle to processed food and links developed between research institutes in the two countries.
Indian Minister for Food Processing Subodh Kant Sahai backed closer ties with France in food processing and called for the setting up of a joint quality laboratory of international standards.
He said there was scope to set up a complete food park with French technology that could act as a successful business model for the whole country, said a CII statement.
“We have the raw material, you have the technology,” said Sahai. “India is in the middle of two big markets – the Middle East and the Far East – and we can help French companies reach out to these markets.”