Inadequate post-harvest handling, processing and storage infrastructure and non-availability of processable varieties of raw materials over a long longer period are factors which are preventing Odisha from achieving double-digit growth in the food processing sector.
An analysis, conducted by the State government following the discontinuance of National Mission on Food Processing (NMFP) from April 1 this year, says that given the potential of the State, augmenting the growth of food processing from 0.7 per cent to 10 per cent by 2017 and 25 per cent by 2025 is possible.
The total agricultural crop production in Odisha has nearly doubled from 46.32 lakh metric tonne in 2002-03 to 87.47 lakh MT in 2009-10. Food production has witnessed an upward trend in production since 2002-03 at 35.55 lakh MT to reach 75.51 lakh MT in 2009-10.
Although Odisha is the country’s leading producer of rice, pulses, vegetables, oilseeds, cotton, groundnut, coconut, jute, spices, potato and fruits, the agro and food processing industry in Odisha is at a nascent stage under the unorganised private sector, it states.
Besides, the food processing sector still remains largely untapped because of high packing costs, cultural preference for fresh food, seasonality of raw materials, lack of adequate infrastructural facilities and quality control mechanism.
“As a result, there is a need to diversify the sector by fully harnessing its potentialities, providing greater incentives as well as creating conducive environment for more investments and exports,” according to the analysis.
According to a government estimate, as of 2013-14, Odisha had approximately 27,284 enterprises engaged in the food and allied sectors generating over 1.47 lakh employment opportunities with an investment of more than Rs. 1,557.86 crore.
Under NMFP from 2012-13 to 2014-15, the food processing industries were assisted with Rs. 11.97 crore and one infrastructure project for conducting a diploma course in food processing technology and seven food processing training centres were supported.
The Capital City has attracted highest investment in the sector by receiving investment to the tune of Rs. 163 crore followed by Bargarh with Rs. 128.02 districts. Cuttack, Ganjam and Kalahandi districts received an investment of Rs. 100 crore each in the sector by end of 2013-14.
The study recommends setting up of an autonomous organisation on promotion of food processing industries and dedicated food processing cell in Directorate of Industries and District Industrial Centres.
Besides, research and development facilities at Orissa University of Agriculture Technology, Bhubaneswar and Centre Rice Research Institute, Cuttack should also be strengthened.