Harsimrat Badal pushes foreign multi-brand retailing in foods

New Delhi, Feb 9 (IANS) Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Tuesday called for fully opening up foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail of the food products produced and processed in India so as to benefit farmers and reduce inflation.

“I have requested the prime minister that 100 percent FDI in multi-brand retail of those food products which are produced and processed in India should be allowed. So that those big companies can create infrastructure especially for the agriculture sector and bring the latest technology for the farm sector,” she said at the eighth Global Food Processing Summit organised by industry chamber Assocham.

“This is in the interest of both consumers and farmers as it will bring down food inflation, create more jobs and lead to rapid infrastructure development,” she said.

Harsimrat Badal noted, that FDI in multi-brand retail has come in the food sector in India, for example, in her home state Punjab.

“It has benefitted everybody, there is no trader in the middle who has lost out, there is no farmer who has lost, no industry has lost out, so it has been a win-win situation and it has been a tried and tested formula,” she added.

India allows foreign investment up to 51 percent in the multi-brand retail sector.

Describing food processing in India as a “sunrise sector” that is only processing two percent of the perishable produce, she said it is imperative to focus on it towards improving condition of farmers across India.

“It will help benefit the consumer by reducing inflation, reduce wastage, increase availability of fresh and processed variety of food at a stable price, improve farming technology,” she said.

“As food processing sector grows, it will lead to increase in demand for farmer’s produce, besides, things like technology transfer, imparting technical know-how and promoting usage of better seeds can further help in uplifting the standard of farmers in the country,” she added.

The minister also informed the gathering that the government plans to open four more mega food parks by the end of the fiscal.

“We plan to operationalise two mega food parks within February this year, and two more before March,” Badal said.

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