By Anushree Jois
Rajasthan’s first mega food park was inaugurated on Thursday by the Union Minister for Food Processing, Harsimrat Kaur Badal. The food park, named Greentech Mega Food Park Limited located at Roopangarh Village in Ajmer district, has been set up at a cost of Rs.113.57 crore and is expected to benefit around 25,000 farmers.
Mega food park schemes
Introduced as a part of the 11th Five Year Plan to create and strengthen modern infrastructure across the country, the mega food parks are customised to meet the needs of the food processing sector. It is expected to increase employment opportunities across the industry, boost income and encourage the growth of the agricultural and food processing industry.
Conceived under the 11th and 12th Five Year plans, the Greentech Mega Food Park aims to serve as a financially self-sustaining entity to foster the sustained development of agriculture, horticulture, post-harvesting processing, and biotechnological research enterprises for the benefit of both the state and local economies. The park, backed by Nepal’s CG Corp Global, was inaugurated in the presence of the Union Minister of State for Food Processing Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, the Rajasthan Minister of Industries Rajpal Singh Shekhawat, the Minister of Agriculture Prabhu Lal Saini, and Ajmer MP Raghu Sharma.
Boost to the CPC and PPCs
The mega food park is based on the Hub and Spoke model and includes a Central Processing Centre (CPC), which is the Hub, and Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) and Collection Centres (CCs), which act as the spokes. The CCs are aggregation points and are the place of contact for farmers and self-help groups. Products are transferred from these to the closest PPCs, which carry out primary processing including grading, sorting and packaging. The minister has indicated that the new park has four PPCs located at Jaipur, Nagpur, Tonk and Churu.
The CPC is responsible for providing secondary and tertiary infrastructure and processing services after receiving products from PPCs. Also, as a connecting point for customers, it supplies food products to both domestic and foreign markets. The Greentech Mega Food Park located at Roopangarh Village has been set up in an area 85.44 acres large. It boasts of facilities such as cold storage of 5,000 MT, a deep freeze of 2,550 MT, IQF of 2 MT/Hr., dry warehouse for raw materials of 2,500 MT, a dry warehouse for finished goods of 5,000 MT, among others. However, much is dependent on how the scheme is implemented.
Benefits across the supply chain
Occupying a dominant share of the supply value chain, the mega park is bound to have a major impact on not only farmers but also on the distributors, retailers, exporters and consumers. With a particular focus on strengthening backward and forward integration, the scheme is based on the cluster approach and is creating hope that the supply chain will be greatly strengthened.
As it leads to better connectivity between farmers and end consumers, the present issues of post-harvest wastage can also be expected to substantially reduce, while increasing income generation. In fact, Minister Harsimrat has suggested that “The park will also provide direct and indirect employment to 5,000 persons and benefit about 25,000 farmers in the CPC and PPC catchment areas.” She also mentioned that farmers would be able to associate with the e-national agriculture market and would be able to sell their produce in almost 550 mandis of the country through the park.
The mega parks are being implemented by the government under its Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters (SAMPADA) and the ‘Make in India’ initiatives, among others. The PMKSY scheme, for example, has received an allocation of Rs.6,000 crore for the period of 2016-20, which it is hoped will benefit 20 lakh farmers and generate 5,30,500 direct and indirect jobs by the year 2019-20. The government has also opened up the food processing sector to foreign investment under the ‘Make in India’ initiative and is establishing the mega parks in order to further growth in the sector.
The way forward
So far the food park scheme seems promising, especially as it is buttressed with renewed promises by the government. At the inauguration of the park, the minister suggested that the mega food park at Rajasthan would leverage an additional investment of about Rs. 250 crores in 25-30 food processing units and would eventually lead to a turnover of about Rs. 450-500 crore annually. However, its true effectiveness can be judged upon after effective implementation.
There is no doubt that the mega food park scheme stands out as the government is not only offering room and facilities but are also making available raw materials, labour, storage and supply solutions. However, the government must ensure the timely and effective implementation of the plan if it is to reap the maximum benefits. Should it falter, it will only be adding yet another layer of middlemen which would make the scheme more of a liability than a panacea.