Centre mulls model marts for food items

Announcing this here on Tuesday, Union Minister of State for Agriculture & Consumer Affairs K V Thomas said he had discussed the proposal with Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar who has agreed to it.

Funds would be no constraint in setting up these ‘Model Markets’,  one in each of the 28 States and 7 Union Territories,  Thomas said.
He was inaugurating a Ficci-organised ‘International Conference-Cum-Exhibition on Agri Business & Food Processing’ in Chennai.

Improved quality
Thomas, back from a tour of European countries including Spain where he participated in an ‘International Conference on Sustainable Fisheries’, said he was convinced of the need to further improve quality of Indian food processing sector, particularly of fishes, fruits, vegetables and meat, as European countries were moving towards “much more stringent quality norms.  The project will have to be implemented in consultation with the State Governments as even in Europe it was the local bodies that had a 51 per cent stake in establishing the ‘modern agri marts’, some of which he visited during his visit, Thomas said. In terms of processing, storage and cooling systems besides packaging, the ‘Agri Marts’ there were remarkably clean and hygenic and “we need to study a lot from them,” he said.

Dependence on processing
Sustainable agriculture depeneded considerably on the food processing sector from which Indian farmers could benefit, the Minister said, explaining why the Centre was giving a greater thrust to it. “We need to promote high value crops integrated with food processing to increase farmers income. It adds value when agri-foods are cleanly sorted out and packaged,” Thomas emphasised. The first ‘Model Market’ was likely to come up in the National Capital as the fish market in Delhi was in very unclean, Thomas said to a query from reporters later, in an informal conversation. Every product in the ‘Model Market’ will carry the whole range of details from which fishing boat was used to catch it, the first landing port, where it was processed and packaged and the like, he added.
Citing a recent National Sample Survey study, R. Ganesan, Director, Agri Business Development, Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, said that 45 per cent of Indian farmers, given an option, would now like to quit farming.

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