Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

The food processing industry in India is increasingly seen as a potential source for driving the rural economy as it brings about synergy between the consumer, industry and the farmer.

Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

FSSAI caps transfats in foods


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Trans fats

Mains level : Health threats posed by Trans Fats

The FSSAI has amended its rules to put a cap on trans fatty acids (TFAs) in food products just weeks after it tightened the norms for oils and fats.

What are the new rules?

  • Food products in which edible oils and fats are used as an ingredient shall not contain industrial Trans fatty acids more than 2% by mass of the total oils/fats present in the product, on and from 1st January 2022.
  • In December, the FSSAI had capped TFAs in oils and fats to 3% by 2021, and 2% by 2022 from the current levels of 5%.
  • The 2% cap is considered to be the elimination of trans fatty acids, which is to be achieved by 2022.

What are Trans Fats?

  • Trans fatty acids are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid, increase the shelf life of food items and for use as an adulterant as they are cheap.
  • They are present in baked, fried and processed foods as well as adulterated ghee which becomes solid at room temperature.
  • They are the most harmful form of fats as they clog arteries and cause hypertension, heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.

Why need such regulation?

  • As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 5.4 lakh deaths take place each year globally because of intake of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids.
  • The WHO has called for the elimination of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids from the global food supply by 2023.
  • The latest FSSAI rules signal the completion of the process of regulating trans fats in India.
  • The move will make a big difference in the health harm caused by this unwanted ingredient.
  • This allows FSSAI and the State-level food safety machinery to focus on implementation and enforcement of the WHO recommendations.

Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

[pib] PM Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Scheme


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PM-FME Scheme

Mains level : Food processing industry and the required reforms

Union Minister for Food Processing Industries has inaugurated the capacity building component of the Pradhan Mantri Formalization of Micro food processing Enterprises scheme (PM-FME Scheme).

The event also sought the launch of the GIS One District One Product (ODOP) Digital Map of India.

Practice question for mains:

Q.What is the PM FME Scheme? Discuss its potential to neutralize various challenges faced by India’s unorganized food industries

PM-FME Scheme

  • Launched under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, the PM-FME Scheme is a centrally sponsored scheme.
  • It aims to enhance the competitiveness of existing individual micro-enterprises in the unorganized segment of the food processing industry and promote formalization of the sector.
  • It seeks to provide support to Farmer Producer Organizations, Self Help Groups, and Producers Cooperatives along their entire value chain.
  • Under the PM-FME scheme, capacity building is an important component.
  • The scheme envisages imparting training to food processing entrepreneurs, various groups, viz., SHGs / FPOs / Co-operatives, workers, and other stakeholders associated with the implementation of the scheme.

Features of the scheme

  • The Scheme adopts One District One Product (ODODP) approach to reap the benefit of scale in terms of procurement of inputs, availing common services and marketing of products.
  • The States would identify food product for a district keeping in view the existing clusters and availability of raw material.
  • The ODOP product could be a perishable produce based product or cereal-based products or a food product widely produced in a district and their allied sectors.
  • An illustrative list of such products includes mango, potato, litchi, tomato, tapioca, kinnu, bhujia, petha, papad, pickle, millet-based products, fisheries, poultry, meat as well as animal feed among others.
  • The Scheme also place focus on waste to wealth products, minor forest products and Aspirational Districts.

 About ODOP Digital Map

  • The GIS ODOP digital map of India provides details of ODOP products of all the states to facilitate the stakeholders.
  • The digital map also has indicators for tribal, SC, ST, and aspirational districts.
  • It will enable stakeholders to make concerted efforts for its value chain development.

Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

PM Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises (PM FME) Scheme


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PM-FME scheme

Mains level : Food processing industry and the required reforms

The Ministry for Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) has launched the PM Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises (PM FME) as a part of “Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan”.

Practice question for mains:

Q.What is the PM FME Scheme? Discuss its potential to neutralize various challenges faced by India’s unorganized food industries.

PM FME Scheme

  • It aims to provide financial, technical and business support for upgradation of existing micro food processing enterprises.
  • It is a centrally sponsored scheme to be implemented over a period of five years from 2020-21 to 2024-25 with an outlay of Rs 10,000 crore.
  • The expenditure under the scheme would to be shared in 60:40 ratios between Central and State Governments, in 90:10 ratios with NE and the Himalayan States, 60:40 ratio with UTs with the legislature and 100% by Centre for other UTs.

Features of the scheme

  • The Scheme adopts One District One Product (ODODP) approach to reap the benefit of scale in terms of procurement of inputs, availing common services and marketing of products.
  • The States would identify food product for a district keeping in view the existing clusters and availability of raw material.
  • The ODOP product could be a perishable produce based product or cereal-based products or a food product widely produced in a district and their allied sectors.
  • An illustrative list of such products includes mango, potato, litchi, tomato, tapioca, kinnu, bhujia, petha, papad, pickle, millet-based products, fisheries, poultry, meat as well as animal feed among others.
  • The Scheme also place focus on waste to wealth products, minor forest products and Aspirational Districts.

Credit facility provided

  • Existing Individual micro food processing units desirous of upgradation of their unit can avail credit-linked capital subsidy @35% of the eligible project cost with a maximum ceiling of Rs.10 lakh per unit.
  • Seed capital @ Rs. 40,000/- per SHG member would be provided for working capital and purchase of small tools.
  • FPOs/ SHGs/ producer cooperatives would be provided a credit-linked grant of 35% for capital investment along the value chain.
  • Support for marketing & branding would be provided to develop brands for micro-units and groups with 50% grant at State or regional level which could benefit a large number of micro-units in clusters.

Why need such a scheme?

  • The unorganized food processing sector comprising nearly 25 lakh units contribute to 74% of employment in the food processing sector.
  • Nearly 66% of these units are located in rural areas and about 80% of them are family-based enterprises supporting livelihood rural household and minimizing their migration to urban areas.

Challenges faced

  • The unorganised food processing sector faces a number of challenges which limit their performance and their growth.
  • These challenges include lack of access to modern technology & equipment, training, access institutional credit, lack of basic awareness on quality control of products; and lack of branding & marketing skills etc.
  • Owing to these challenges; the unorganised food processing sector contributes much less in terms of value addition and output despite its huge potential.

Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

[pib] Scheme for formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises (FME)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Scheme for formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises (FME)

Mains level : Food processing industry and the required reforms

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to a new Centrally Sponsored Scheme – “Scheme for Formalization of Micro food processing Enterprises (FME)” for the Unorganized Sector on All India basis.

Practice question for mains:

Q. Discuss the scope and significance of Food Processing Industries in India.  Also discuss how can it benefit India becoming the global food store.


  • There are about 25 lakh unregistered food processing enterprises which constitute 98% of the sector and are unorganized and informal.
  •  Nearly 66 % of these units are located in rural areas and about 80% of them are family-based enterprises.
  • This sector faces a number of challenges including the inability to access credit, high cost of institutional credit, lack of access to modern technology, inability to integrate with the food supply chain and compliance with the health & safety standards.
  • Strengthening this segment will lead to a reduction in wastage, creation of off-farm job opportunities and aid in achieving the overarching Government objective of doubling farmers’ income.

Details of the Scheme for FME

  • The Union Cabinet has sanctioned an outlay of Rs.10,000 crore.
  • The expenditure will be shared by GOI and the States in the ratio of 60:40.

Salient features

  • It will be a Centrally Sponsored Scheme. Expenditure to be shared by the Government of India and States at 60:40.
  • 2, 00,000 micro-enterprises are to be assisted with credit linked subsidy.
  • The scheme will be implemented over a 5 year period from 2020-21 to 2024-25.
  • Cluster approach.
  • Focus on perishables.

Support for Individual micro-units:

  • Micro enterprises will get credit-linked subsidy @ 35% of the eligible project cost with a ceiling of Rs.10 lakh.
  • The beneficiary contribution will be a minimum of 10% and balance from the loan.
  • On-site skill training & Handholding for DPR and technical upgradation.

Implementation strategy

  • The scheme will be rolled out on All India basis.
  • Seed capital will be given to SHGs (@Rs. 4 lakh per SHG) for the loan to members for working capital and small tools.
  • Grant will be provided to FPOs for backward/forward linkages, common infrastructure, packaging, marketing & branding.

Administrative and Implementation Mechanisms

  • The Scheme would be monitored at Centre by an Inter-Ministerial Empowered Committee (IMEC) under the Chairmanship of Minister, FPI.
  • A State/ UT Level Committee (SLC) chaired by the Chief Secretary will monitor and sanction/ recommend proposals for expansion of micro-units and setting up of new units by the SHGs/ FPOs/ Cooperatives.
  • The States/ UTs will prepare Annual Action Plans covering various activities for implementation of the scheme, which will be approved by the Government of India.
  • A third-party evaluation and mid-term review mechanism would be built in the programme.
  • The State/ UT Government will notify a Nodal Department and Agency for implementation of the Scheme.

Establishment of a National Portal & MIS

  • A National level portal would be set-up wherein the applicants/ individual enterprise could apply to participate in the Scheme.
  • All the scheme activities would be undertaken on the National portal.

Benefits of the Scheme

  • Nearly eight lakh micro-enterprises will benefit through access to information, better exposure and formalization.
  • Credit linked subsidy support and hand-holding will be extended to 2,00,000 micro-enterprises for expansion and upgradation.
  • It will enable them to formalize, grow and become competitive.
  • The project is likely to generate nine lakh skilled and semi-skilled jobs.
  • The scheme envisages increased access to credit by existing micro food processing entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in the Aspirational Districts.
  • Better integration with organized markets.
  • Increased access to common services like sorting, grading, processing, packaging, storage etc.

Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

Market Intelligence and Early Warning System (MIEWS)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MIEWS, TOP

Mains level : Ensuring fair prices for TOP produce



The Union Food Processing Ministry has launched a new Market Intelligence and Early Warning System (MIEWS) portal to monitor the prices of TOP crops – Tomato, Onion and Potato.


  • MIEWS portal is the first-of-its-kind platform for ‘real-time monitoring’ of prices of tomato, onion and potato.
  • The system has been designed to provide advisories to farmers to avoid cyclical production and issue early warnings in situations of gluts.
  • It will simultaneously generate alerts for price intervention under the terms of Operation Greens (OG) scheme.
  • It will generate early alerts in case there is going to be a major change in the prices of these crops.
  • This will help in planning and timely intervention for price stabilization. The portal can be accessed at this link-

Utility of MIEWS

The MIEWS would:

  • Monitor the supply situation for timely market intervention,
  • Assist in rapid response during times of glut to move the produce from glut regions to regions with deficit supply.
  • Provide inputs for export/import decision making.


Operation Greens

  • In the budget speech of Union Budget 2018-19, a new Scheme “Operation Greens” was announced on the line of “Operation Flood” to promote Farmer Producers Organizations (FPOs #), agri-logistics, processing facilities and professional management.
  • Accordingly, the Ministry has formulated a scheme for integrated development of Tomato, Onion and Potato (TOP) value chain.
  • Under the OG Scheme, during a glut situation, the evacuation of surplus production from producing areas to consumption centres will be undertaken in the following cases:
  1. When the price falls below the average market price at the time of harvest in the preceding 3 years.
  2. When the price falls more than 50 percent in comparison to the previous year’s market price at the time of harvest.
  3. When the price falls below the benchmark, if any, fixed by either the state or central government for a stipulated period.

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Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

[oped of the day] Storage facilities for rabi onions must be created on a massive scale


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Onion price crisis : Ling term solutions


The failure to control spiking onion prices (it has crossed Rs 100/kg in several retail markets) has become a nightmare for the central government.

How future crises can be prevented

The current spike in onion prices could have been anticipated.

The trajectory of onion prices

    • Retail prices touched Rs 50-60/kg in September-October.
    • Trade controls – The government imposed minimum export price (MEP), put stocking limits on retailers and wholesalers and then banned onion exports. 
    • IT raids – When these measures failed to tame onion prices, even income tax raids were conducted on traders.
    • Previous finance minister, the late Arun Jaitley had announced and allocated Rs 500 crore for “Operation Green” in the 2018 Union Budget to stabilise the prices of tomatoes, onions and potatoes (TOP). 

Expected crisis

    • Acreage – The Horticulture Statistics Division had reported 7% lower kharif acreage compared to the previous year in major onion growing states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
    • Rains – Due to heavy rains in September/October, almost 58% of the kharif onions in MP, 18% in Karnataka and 2% in AP were damaged. Continuous rains led to a delay in harvesting in Maharashtra. 
    • Late response – The government woke up to the problem late and directed MMTC to import 1 lakh million tonnes (mt) of onions. With relaxed fumigation norms, onions are being imported from Afghanistan, Turkey, and Egypt.

India – Onions

    • India is already the largest exporter of onions in the world with average exports of 2 mmt a year.
    • Instead of banning exports, it is better to keep imports open so that when domestic prices rise unduly, private trade can start importing rather than waiting for the government to take a delayed decision. 
    • India can remain a reliable exporter, which will help farmers get better prices on a sustainable basis. Abrupt export bans reflect the failure of government policy.
    • India needs to build proper value chains as envisaged under “Operation Green”.

Other solutions

    • Storage – storage facilities for rabi onions must be created on a massive scale, both at the farmers’ end as well as with traders. 
    • When prices were hovering around Rs 4-5/kg in April-May, the government could have purchased onions at ~ Rs10/kg and stored the stock in modern, private-sector godowns. 
    • Repeated stocking limits and raids discourage private investment in modern cold storages. 
    • Essential Commodities Act has to go. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has to look into traders’ collusion.
    • Dehydrated onions (flakes, powder, granules) can be promoted among urban households and bulk consumers (armed forces, hospitals, hotels and restaurants, etc).
    • Buffer stock – As onions are sensitive commodities, the government should also keep a buffer stock of dehydrated onions, which have a much longer shelf life. 1 kg of dehydrated onion equals 10 kg of fresh onions. This is the right time to promote their use. 
    • With more than 100 units, Mahuva in Gujarat is already a hub for the dehydrated onion industry. 
    • Contract farming – Jain Irrigation emerged as the largest dehydrated onion company in India engaging small and marginal farmers on contract. The price to be paid to growers is assured by the company even before planting. If the market price after the harvest is higher than the assured price, then farmers get a price that is 60 paise/kg less than the market price.
    • FPO – small and marginal farmers should be organised in Farmer-Producer Organisations and direct buying by organised retailers should be encouraged through contract farming, bypassing the mandi system.
    • Market reforms along with overhauling the infrastructure of existing APMC mandis are required. APMC reforms are needed. Without that, the prospects of unified national markets, stabilising prices or ensuring a fair price to farmers and consumers are bleak.

Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

[op-ed of the day] The food industry’s role in sustainable development


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Agro-industries and SDGs

Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that came in the news and for which students must pay attention. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective GS papers.


Food crisis

  • Feeding a planet of 7.7 billion people is no easy matter. Every person on the planet needs, expects, and has the right to a healthy diet.
  • Over 820 million people are chronically hungry. Another two billion or so suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, such as a lack of vitamins or proteins.
  • Around 650 million adults are obese, an epidemic caused in part by ultra-processed foods that are stuffed with sugar, saturated fats and other chemical additives.
  • But the problems go far beyond hunger and diet.

Beyond hunger and diet

  • A growing number of food companies understand the challenge and want to forge a new direction that is consistent with human health and planetary survival.
  • The food industry is a powerhouse of the global economy and includes some of the best-known brand names, because we connect with them every day.
  • Solving the many intersecting food crises will be impossible unless the industry changes its ways.

Agro-industries are no less responsible

  • Today’s agro-industrial practices are the main cause of deforestation, freshwater depletion and pollution, soil erosion, and the collapse of biodiversity.
  • To top it off, human-induced climate change, partly caused by the food sector, is wreaking havoc on crop production.
  • With more warming and population growth ahead, the crisis will worsen unless decisive changes are made.

Need for a worldwide policy revamp

Both the SDGs and the Paris agreement require decisive changes in practices by the food industry.Each company must address four critical questions.

First, do products and strategies contribute to healthy and sustainable diets?

  • We know that the fast-food culture is literally killing us.
  • The industry has to change to promote healthy diets.

Second, are the company’s production practices sustainable?

  • Too many companies are engaged in chemical pollution, massive waste from packaging, deforestation, excessive and poorly targeted fertilizer use, and other environmental ills.

Third, are the company’s upstream suppliers sustainable?

  • No consumer food company should use products from farms that contribute to deforestation.
  • The destruction of forests in the Amazon and Indonesia—literally a scorched-earth process—underscore the need to barcode all food products to ensure that they are sourced from sustainable farms.

Lastly, is the company a good corporate citizen?

  • For example, aggressive tax practices that exploit legal loopholes should be avoided, as they deprive governments of the revenues needed to promote public services and thereby achieve the SDGs.

Failing on many fronts

  • While many companies purport to pursue sustainable development, too few report on the healthfulness of their product.
  • Too few recognize that they are part of the environmental crisis, either directly in their own production, or as buyers of products produced in environmental hotspots such as the Amazon or Indonesia.
  • In short, the food industry’s commitment to sustainability is still too often more high-minded sentiment than actual reporting and monitoring to ensure alignment with the global goals.


  • The food sector is a key part of a larger picture. World leaders gathered at the UN this week to review progress on the SDGs and the Paris agreement.
  • They must keep in mind one crucial fact: the world’s people are demanding change.
  • Most countries have the know-how and wealth to achieve a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable world.
  • The business sector must urgently recognize, acknowledge and act upon its global responsibilities.

Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

“Reducing Food Loss and Waste” Report


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the report

Mains level : Food Wastage

“Reducing Food Loss and Waste” Report

  • It is a new report published by the World Resources Institute (WRI) with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation.
  • It has quantified global food wastage.
  • It put forward a Global Action Agenda that calls on governments, companies, farmers and consumers to collectively overcome “the world’s food loss and waste problem.”
  • Some of these actions include developing national strategies for food loss and waste reduction, creating national PPP, launch supply chain initiatives, reducing small-holder losses and shifting consumer social norms.

Globally uneaten food

  • Nearly one-third of the food that is produced each year goes uneaten, costing the global economy over $940 billion.
  • The uneaten food is responsible for emitting about 8 per cent of planet-warming greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, said the report.
  • Referencing “numerous studies”, the report said most of the food loss happens “near the farm” predominantly in lower-income countries.
  • And most of the food waste happens “near the plate” predominantly in higher-income countries.

Most perishable items

  • Fruits and vegetables follow, with over 41%.
  • When viewed as a proportion, by weight, of all the food estimated to be lost and wasted globally, fruits and vegetables make up the largest share of total annual food loss and waste.
  • Using data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the report concluded that roots and tubers are the food group that face the maximum wastage, at over 62% for 2007.

Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

‘Trans Fat Free’ logo


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Trans Fats

Mains level : Healthcare awareness in India

  • Bakeries, sweet shops, restaurants besides packaged food companies will now be allowed to use “Trans Fat Free” logo at their outlets and on their products, if they comply with the norms notified by the FSSAI.

Why in news?

  • The food establishments which use trans-fat free fats/oils and do not have industrial trans-fat more than 0.2 gms per 100 gm of the food, in compliance with the regulation can display ‘Trans Fat Free’ logo in their outlets and on their food products.

Bar on trans-fat content

  • Since last year FSSAI has been pushing the industry to bring down the trans-fatty acids in Vanaspati, edible bakery shortenings, margarine in a phased manner.
  • The trans fat content in fats and oils has already been limited to 5 per cent.
  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had last year notified the Advertisement and Claims regulations on Trans fats.
  • It stated that nutritional claim of trans fat free can only be made if products contain less than 0.2 gm trans fat per 100 gm or 100 ml of food.
  • The regulator is working on further reducing the content to 3 per cent by 2021 and 2 per cent by 2022.
  • According to FSSAI regulations, the maximum permissible limits for Total Polar Compounds (TPC) have been set at 25 per cent, beyond which the cooking oil is unsafe for consumption.

Assist this newscard with:

FSSAI launches awareness drive on trans fats

Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

[pib] World Food India 2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : World Food India 2019

Mains level : Food processing industries in India

  • Union Minister for Food Processing Industries has inaugurated the World Food India 2019, the biggest gathering of all global and domestic stakeholders in Food Processing Sector
  • It is aimed to position India as Food Processing Destination of the World.

World Food India

  • The government initiated a biennial event- World Food India to promote food processing sector at global level.
  • The first such event was conducted in 2017 and received wide success.
  • The event created Brand India in global food map by positioning India as a World Food Factory.
  • It was for the first time in India that all major policy makers and top industrialists across the globe in Food Processing Industries were together under one roof.

Food Processing Industry in India

  • Food processing is one of the six superstar sectors under the GoI’s Make in India initiative and has the potential to transform India as a leading food processing destination of the World.
  • It is critical to achieving the PM’s vision of doubling the farmers’ income in India and reducing food wastage.
  • Indian Food Processing Industry has grown tremendously recording 11% growth rate, which is twice the pace of Global Industry.
  • The sector has recorded double digit growth rate across all major sub-segments of the sectors both in terms of value and volume.
  • Despite huge domestic market of 1.3 billion customers with the youngest population globally and an abundant agricultural base, the processing levels in India remain low at 7.7%.
  • India lags behind several economies such as China, Malaysia and US. Its share in global exports of processed food is only 2%.
  • Besides, India also has a high share of harvest and post-harvest losses from major agricultural produces on account of poor storage, transportation and logistics to the extent of $13 Billion,3 times the agricultural budget.

Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

Report flags growing threat of monoculture in crop production


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture| Transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: FAO report on Monoculture

Mains level: Monoculture: utility and impact on ecosystem


  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has flagged the growing practice of monoculture —cultivation of a single crop at a given area in food production around the world.

FAO Report

  1. FAO published its latest report The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture 
  2. Of more than 6,000 plant species cultivated for food production, fewer than 200 contribute significantly to food production globally, regionally or nationally,according to FAO’s .
  3. Only 9 plant species account for almost two-thirds of total crop production.
  4. These are using large quantities of external inputs such as pesticides, mineral fertilizers and fossil fuels,” the report said.

The report lists drivers of change affecting biodiversity for food and agriculture, including:

  • Population growth and urbanization
  • Over-exploitation and over-harvesting
  • Changes in land and water use and management
  • Pests, diseases and invasive alien species
  • Climate change
  • Pollution and external inputs
  • Natural disasters
  • Markets, trade and the private sector

Various Factors

  1. The first factor contributor majorly towards monoculture as people move to cities they tend to depend more on purchased foods, citing the example of Ecuador.
  2. They often also tend to lose ties with rural areas and rural foods, and increasingly opt for processed foods rather than fresh foods.
  3. This pressures producers to continuously grow or keep only a limited range of species, breeds and varieties of crops, livestock, trees, fish, etc.
  4. Individual holdings as well as wider productive landscapes become more homogeneous in terms of their genetics and physical structure, the report added.

Impact of Mono Cropping

  1. Such changes often affect the resilience of production systems and their role in biodiversity.
  2. Private food standards adopted by supermarkets and consumers have pushed farmers towards particular varieties and management procedures.
  3. International markets particularly be restrictive for market entry effectively debar the entry into the market of minor crops from developing countries.
  4. The emphasis on meat-based diets and the use of a narrow range of major cereals (maize, wheat and rice) is growing.
  5. The report predicts that the demand for standardised foods can reduce the diversity of crops and animals.

The diverse the better

  1. If a single variety is widely grown, a pest or disease to which it lacks resistance can lead to a dramatic fall in production.
  2. Diversifying crop cultivation, on the other hand, reduces risk of economic shocks.
  3. Integrating intercrops, hedgerows or cover crops, particularly legumes, into a system can reduce drought stress by helping to conserve water in the soil profile and help to replenish depleted soil fertility.
  4. Also crop diversification including rotation and intercropping and the use of diverse forage plants in pastureland, can reduce pest damage and weed invasions.
  5. The growing exploitation of land and water sources was eating in to integrated aquaculture, which in turn was pushing farmers towards monoculture.

The need of the hour

  • New supply systems
  • Improved public-private partnerships.

Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

Mariculture is as important for India as agriculture


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Food Security

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mariculture, various edible seaweeds, Photorespiration, Project RIPE

Mains level: In light of declining land crop productivity, the newscard emphasizes the feasibility of Seaweeds as an alternative food


Food Security at stake

  1. About 37% of the area of the entire world is agricultural land, a third of which (about 11%) is used for crops.
  2. And as the population of the world rises to 9.7 billion people in 30 years, the land available for crops will reduce.
  3. Thus, there is an immediate need to try and improve the efficiency of food production.
  4. Experts predict that agricultural yield must increase by 50% between now and 2050.
  5. How to do this is the question facing agricultural scientists across the world.

What can be done to increase Productivity?

I. Engineered Photosynthesis under Project RIPE

  1. One way of increasing productivity one such attempt is through the project RIPE (Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency).
  2. It has shown in the model plant tobacco where the scientists could “engineer photosynthesis” by increasing the expression of three genes involved in processing light.
  3. This increases the tobacco yield by 20%. The team is trying to do the same genetic engineering method in other plants.
  4. One such plant is cassava (also called sago or sabudana) whose roots are carbohydrate-rich is eaten as staple food in parts of Andhra, Kerala and the hilly areas of Assam.

II. Reducing Photorespiration

  1. Another way that scientists are trying is to reduce what is called photorespiration in plants.
  2. Here the energy and oxygen produced in the ‘light reaction’ of photosynthesis is drained by the plant to make “wasteful” products in the ‘dark reaction’.
  3. It consumes carbohydrates and other food material, particularly when the plant’s leaves close in order to reduce water loss by evaporation.
  4. If we can find ways to reduce this photorespiration, edible food yields can go up.


  1. Many of these research attempts involve the introduction of external genes and gene products into food crops.
  2. These are opposed by group of people who do not want genetic engineering and genetically modified plants.
  3. This is a curious situation where science finds ways to deal with genes so as to improve yields while sociology opposes it based on worries about safety.
  4. A viable solution needs to be found, failing which food production may not increase all to feed the ever growing population of the world.


Mariculture: A Feasible Option

  1. The most efficient use of photosynthesis is actually not by land plants but by micro and macro algae, such as seaweeds.
  2. These are the champions, contributing to about 50% of all photosynthesis in the world.
  3. Many of them, notably those with dark green, red and brown colour, are edible.
  4. They are low-calorie and nutrient-dense food items and eaten by people in most parts of South East Asia.

Include seaweeds in our diet

  1. Seaweeds are rich sources of vitamins A and C, and minerals such as Ca, Mg, Zn, Se and Fe.
  2. They also have a high level of vegetable proteins and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
  3. Best of all, they are vegetarian, indeed vegan, and do not have any fishy smell, thus good and acceptable.

Seaweeds in India

  1. About 844 seaweed species are reported from India, a country with a coast line of 7,500 km.
  2. While we have 63% of our land area for crop agriculture, we should not forget this vast coastal area, much of which breeds seaweeds.
  3. The Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI) at Bhavnagar, Gujarat has done pioneering work in the area.
  4. The seaweeds found in plenty, Ulva, Pyropia, Porphyra and Kappaphycus are edible and that it will be good to cultivate them in large scale, as is done in countries like Japan.
  5. Of the 306 seaweeds in the Gulf of Mannar, 252 are edible.

Way Forward

  1. India should embark on Mariculture as vigorously as Agriculture, given its 7,500 km-long coastal line.
  2. Further, it does not require pesticides, fertilizers and water for irrigation, which is an added advantage.
  3. We may “break in” through the use of seaweeds as pizza seasoning, in spice sachets, so that people get used to them.

Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

[pib] Indus Food 2019


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Food processing & related industries in India- scope & significance, location, upstream & downstream requirements, supply chain management

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Indus Food

Mains level: Promoting India’s export in Foods and Beverage Sector


  • INDUS FOOD-II with the theme of ‘World Food Supermarket’ will be held on 14th and 15th January, 2019, at India Expo Mart, Greater Noida.


  1. INDUS FOOD is a platform of its kind exclusively devoted to enhancing Indian exports in F&B sector.
  2. It enables B2B engagements of buyers and suppliers, after careful business matchmaking, which takes care of precise business requirements of each participant, and enables him to pick and choose whom to meet.
  3. The event is aimed at promoting India as a strong and reliable exporter of food and beverage products to the world.


  1. INDUS FOOD 2019 will promote value addition to India’s agriculture exports and integrate Indian farmers and agricultural products with global value chains.
  2. After the success of the first edition of INDUS FOOD in 2018, Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI) has scaled up the Reverse Buyers-Sellers Meet (RBSM) with the financial assistance under Market Access Initiative (MAI) scheme of Department of Commerce.
  3. With more than 700 buyers from 70 countries visiting INDUS FOOD-II and more than 500 food suppliers, the event will lead to greater interaction of Indian exporters with global customers.
  4. It will bring business opportunities to the doorstep of Indian producers and manufacturers and help small exporters, who cannot afford participation in overseas fairs, to have a direct interface with foreign buyers who visit India for this show.
  5. The event is divided into 15 product display zones viz. sweets & confectionary, dairy, dry fruits, fruits & vegetables, Indian ethnic food & snacks, meat poultry & seafood, non-alcoholic beverages, oil & oil seeds, organic & health food, pulses grain and sugar, spices, tea & coffee, wine & alcoholic beverages, consumer food, and ingredients and fragrances & extracts.

Developments in Food Processing Industry

The food processing industry in India is increasingly seen as a potential source for driving the rural economy as it brings about synergy between the consumer, industry and the farmer. However, food processing activity is still at a nascent stage in India with low penetration.

Importance of Food Processing Industry

  • It holds the potential of reducing enormous wastage of agricultural produce in the absence of processing technologies and cold chain facility
  • It is labour-intensive industry, which has the potential to employ 13 million people directly and 35 million people indirectly
  • This will also lead to increase in farm income, generate employment opportunities, foster forward and backward linkage effects, contribute to exports and integrate Indian economy with the rest of world

What is the magnitude and size of this industry?

India is strategically located at the centre of the Middle-East and South-East with a long coastal line and easy sea connectivity as well as plenty of raw material for long period which can attract multi-national companies instead of food processing.

It is the 5th largest industry and has the highest rate of growth as well as a very high employment elasticity. Currently, it accounts for nearly 16% of total employment in the organized manufacturing sector and 32% in unorganized sector.

What are the factors which can drive this industry?

  • India’s demographic profile with 65% of population below 30 years of age
  • Fast changing consumption patterns
  • Increase in disposable incomes of the people
  • Fast increase in the number of working women, who prefer the packaged food
  • Growth of organised food retail in India
  • Nearly 55% of the total expenditure on an average is spent on food and grocery in rural areas and nearly 40% in urban areas and only 10% of what we grow is processed in India

What are the challenges faced by FPI?

  • Indifference of policy makers as very little outlays are allocated in Five Year Plans. In the XI FYP, an outlay of Rs. 4000 crore was earmarked out of which significant proportion was not spent
  • The legislation’s like APMC Acts, Essential Commodities Act, etc restricts free movement of commodities
  • Very poor infrastructure i.e. near absence of technologies, incubation facilities, pre-cooling chambers, irradiation facilities, etc < Food Irradiation is a technology that improves the safety and extends the shelf life of foods by reducing or eliminating microorganisms and insects>
  • High tariffs in the form of high excise duties as well as import duties
  • Non-tariff barriers in the form of stringest regulation of laboratory testing, grading, sampling and packaging
  • Lack of entrepreneurship, as 70% of the total value of food processing items manufactured in India is dominated by the unorganised sector
  • Lack of training facilities related to this industry
  • Very low Research & Development
  • Indian agriculture focuses on traditional crops rather than market-oriented agriculure with diversified commercial crops

What are the Govt efforts to promote this industry?

XI Five Year Plan: Govt. recognized the potential of this sector and launched Mega Food Park. It also adopted various measures such as modernization of Abattoir (Slaughter houses), modernization of meat shops, upgradation of street food, effective implementation of Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, technology upgradation, entrepreneurship development programme, setting up of training institutes, etc

Mega Food Park

These are the parks with state-of-art infrastructure related to all of the facilities required for food processing industry with their captive power plants, transportation and other hygienic facilities to attract food processing units to avail of this infrastructure for manufacturing food-processed items.

The target was to set up 30 Mega Food Parks, but only 9 came up.

XII Five Year Plan: There was significant shift in govt. policy towards this industry in XII FYP, as it allocation to the tune of 4-times as compared to XI FYP, with an outlay of Rs. 15000 crore. It also launched National Mission on Food Processing, in the background of the success of National Mission on Horticulture.

National Mission on Food Processing

The mission has two main principles: Decentralization and Outreach.

The mission is totally centrally sponsored and the responsibility of its implementation lies with the state govt., who will have to take initiative in organizing the unorganized food processors into SHGs (Self-Help Group) and provide them training and other facilities. State govt. will have to bring about synergy between agriculture and food processing industries.

Budget 2016-17

Govt. has decided to allow 100% FDI in multi-brand retail for food products produced and processed in India will play a catalytic role in leapfrogging Indian economy.


It will be the endeavor of policy makers to ensure that food processing industry conform to global standards of health and hygiene and adopt CODEX standards (related to food safety) laid down by Food & Agriculture Organization and WHO, for the protection of consumer health.

Food processing needs a fillip in the form of better logistics, access to credit, technology indigenisation and implementation of food safety laws.

Suggested Readings: 
Untapped potential of food processing – The Hindu
Food Processing in India – Make in India

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