Agri industry incurring Rs 76,500 cr annual loss

"Out of the loss of Rs 76,500 crore,equivalent to the annual budget of three big states, Rs 52,400 crore accounts for perishable fruits, vegetables and poultry products. This calls for augmenting infrastructure facilities,including storage and gearing up food processing industry", Dr A K Srivastava, Director and Vice-Chancellor NDRI Deemed University said.

He was addressing the three day 20th Indian Convention of Food Scientists and Technologists here with the theme being "Specialised Processed Foods For Health and Nutrition: Technology and Delivery."

The huge loss,despite annual agriculture production of 149 million tons, was mainly due to an inefficient supply chain, very low food processing and huge post harvest loss, he said.

"The USD 26 billion Indian food processing industry, which contributes eight per cent to GDP, needs to be enhanced," he said.

Referring to products like milk, Srivastava pointed out that countries like Netherlands process 100 per cent of milk compared to India, where only 16 per cent is processed,of which seven per cent is curd. "We need to move forward and achieve that kind of a target", he said.

Chennai rates highest in terms of milk consumption as curd at 28.7 per cent closely followed by Bangalore at 23.6 per cent, he said.

Srivastava, who released a souvenir on the occasion,said a national survey had indicated that 70 per cent of the population lack macro nutrients despite enhanced awareness of health foods and that 16.2 million people die of diseases.
There is demand for specialised foods for specific categories of consumers who may suffer from ailments, old age and pregnant and lactating women and also for fortified foods (with vitamins and minerals), he said.

Dr P G Chengappa, Vice-Chancellor, University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore,highlighted the need to develop new agricultural processes in view of the "changing preferences and changing profiles of the consumers".

"India, which has the largest youth population, has great potential for processed food products. The food processing industry is in a nascent but vibrant stage here", he said.
The industry, fifth in terms of growth potential, is expected to grow between 9-12 per cent in the coming years as against the present 9.9 per cent annual growth.

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