Minister seeks foreign equity in retail of food

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Mumbai, Feb 16 (IANS) Punjab has proven that foreign equity in food retail with 100 percent local sourcing can be a win-win formula for everyone, union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said here on Tuesday.

“I still oppose FDI in multi-brand retail, but my demand is FDI with 100 percent sourcing only in the agricultural sector,” she said on the margins of the ‘Make in India Week’ here.

Walmart has 20 of its 25 outlets in Punjab and no kirana (grocery) shop has been driven out of business there, Badal said, adding, “There is space for everyone to exist”.

India currently allows — at least on paper — up to 51 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retailing. But no proposal has been approved as the current government has not yet firmed up its stand on the subject and continues to hold consultations.

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Far from displacing small traders, foreign equity in multi-brand retailing will boost India’s agro industry in a big way, the minister said.

Badal said the “sunrise sector” of food processing currently accounted for only two percent of the perishable produce and needed to do much more.

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

India allows 100 per cent FDI in food processing except for alcohol, beer, and sectors reserved for small-scale industries.

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