'State has potential to lead in agri business, food processing sectors'

'State has potential to lead in agri business, food processing sectors'
Karnataka, which has been ruling the roost in information technology for the last three decades, has the potential to emerge as the agri-business and food processing capital of the country.

Speakers at a seminar on Agri-Business and Food Processing held as part of Invest Karnataka-2016 in Bengaluru on Wednesday were unanimous in their opinion that Karnataka was emerging as the most favoured destination in the emerging sector.

Gokul Patnaik and Sanjay Kaul, two retired IAS officers from the state and now heading food processing and logistics companies, gave their thumbs to investment opportunities in the sector in the state.

Additional Chief Secretary and Development Commissioner G Latha Krishna Rau set the ball rolling by stating that the state’s output in the agri-business and food processing sector grew at 20 percent in  2009-13, outpacing the national growth which stood at 16 per cent. The state has set itself a target of capturing 20 percent of the market in the sector in the country by 2020.

Patnaik, who is now the chairman of Global Agrisystem, spoke on the opportunities available for tapping the vast potential for integrated poultry in the state. Maize, the main fodder for poultry, could be outsourced to farmers by entrepreneurs. Kaul, who now heads National Collateral Management Services, said there was potential for private investment of Rs 1,345 crore in the next three years for improvement of  51 mandis in the state. This included upgrading physical infrastructure of mandis, grading and assaying facilities, cold storage, and mechanisation and bulk handling.

Hari Menon, chief executive officer of Big Basket, India’s largest online grocery store, said the e-grocery market was set to grow from the present $15 million to $20 billon in India by 2020.

He said the all-India fresh produce volume of Big Basket is sourced directly from Karnataka.  The company has set up five collection centres at Chikkaballapura, Malur, Nelamangala, Gokak and Mysuru, Menon said.

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