India seeks Canadian investment in food processing sector

"Canada can become the catalysing agent that can help India feed the world and enhanced global food security," Minister for Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahai said while addressing over 50 top executives of Canadian companies at a function here.

"I invite Canadian food processing industry to help us enhance our capability in the food processing sector and uplift 70 per cent of Indian people who lives in rural areas and are engaged in farming," Sahai told PTI after visiting Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan where he had meetings with top politicians and officials.

During his weeklong visit, the Minister, who led five member business delegations, also discussed matters of mutual interests with his counterpart in the Canadian government in Ottawa, particularly cooperation in high-tech areas like nanotechnology.

Stating that food worth Rs 50,000 crore was being wasted in India every year, the Minister said: "This offers great opportunity for Canadian companies to invest in India not only to meet domestic demand but also to export the agro-based products."

He said: "Canada is internationally recognised for safe, high-quality agriculture and food products. The Canadian food and beverage processing industry supplies approximately 80 per cent of processed food and beverage products available in the country against 10 per cent in India."

The Minister said that the annual growth of this sector in 2009 was 15 per cent against 10 per cent in the previous year. "Food Processing Industry is highly untapped area that offers great opportunities to foreign investors."

Stating that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called for a second Green Revolution in India, Sahai said that this would be possible only through industrialisation of agri-produce in the country.

"And Canada is a leader in this sector," he said.

Pointing out that less than USD 1 billion Canadian investment in India was very low against Indian investment in Canada which was close to USD 9 billion, Sahai said he wanted Canadian figure to grow to several billion dollars in the years to come.

"We are here to also see how Canadian can join Indian farming sector so as to improve on business opportunities in India for rural masses where on an average earning of foreign investors is more than 15 per cent after tax and FDIs have already invested Rs 25,000 crore."

The minister also called for transfer of food processing technologies from Canada to India and joint collaboration in research and development in the sector.

He said that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology and McGill University for knowledge based partnership and student exchange program.

In addition to visiting Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, the business delegation visited Manitoba and discussed the matters of mutual interests with Canadian businesses and government officials.

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