FDI in food processing will double farmer incomes by 2022: Badal

New Delhi, March 15 (IANS) The 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in food processing announced in Budget 2016-17 will play a catalytic role in doubling farmers’ income by 2022, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said on Tuesday.

“The 100 percent FDI decision will usher in a partnership between industry and farmers and play a huge role in creating backward infrastructure linkages and plugging wastages, improving the farmers’ prospects,” Badal said here while inaugurating the 31st edition of the Aahar International Food and Hospitality Fair.

“Amidst the global slowdown, India continues to be one bright spot. Many foreign players whom I met at international food expositions requested me to put in a word, so that they can participate in Aahar,” she said.

“I aspire to turn India into the food factory for the world in the next few years,” the minister added.

Noting that while the average Indian spends 40 percent of his income on eatables, “only 10 percent of what we grow is processed in India”, Harsimrat Badal said the FDI decision pertains to fully “swadeshi” and home-grown food.

“This step will lead to creation of ‘swadeshi’ infrastructure with ‘videshi’ money and will help farmers get remunerative prices for their produce and transfer of technology,” she said.

Recalling the big market access challenge that India’s farmers face, Badal said that she is looking at a market that goes to the farmer’s doorsteps and an industry that chases the farmer.

“I wish I did not have to go the market… I wish the market came to me,” the minister said giving voice to the wish of a common farmer.

She said a unified agriculture marketing e-platform will be set up next month to bring markets to the farmers’ doorsteps.

This, coupled with 100 percent FDI in marketing of food products produced domestically, would result in big buyers reaching out to farmers for their produce, she added.

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