Punjab Government launches Mega Food Park in Punjab's border town Fazilka at a cost of Rs.136 crore
HARISH DIDO | 15 Dec 2014

Union minister for Food Processing Industry Harsimrat Kaur Badal inaugurated the first of its kind mega international food park in Punjab here today even as she gave a clarion call for establishment of more food processing units to reduce the astronomical Rs 45,000 crore food wastage in the country.

Inaugurating the food park, which is the fourth such park in the country, along with Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, the Union minister said "this is just the beginning. My ministry has succeeded in promoting an international food park here by extending a subsidy of Rs 50 crore. In the near future you will see many more parks and food processing units coming up in the State", she said while addressing a huge public gathering on the occasion.

Giving details of forthcoming projects in Punjab, Mrs Badal said ITC was coming up with a Rs 1,000 crore food park in Kapurthala. "We are also promoting establishment of a cold chain for which we are giving a subsidy of Rs 10 crore besides creation of modern processing centres for milk, fruits and vegetables", she added.

Urging farmers to add value to their crops she said they could also form small self help groups for this purpose. Making out a case for diversifying from paddy cultivation, Mrs Badal said the need of the hour was to add value to fruits and vegetables grown in Punjab. "We need to process kinnows, tomatoes and potatoes in much larger quantities to usher in a food processing revolution in the State", she added.

Mrs Badal also gave figures of how food processing was growing at 8.6 per cent against industrial growth rate of 6 per cent and agriculture growth of 3 per cent. "However much more needs to be done as we are only processing 10  per cent of our food produce. This lack of processing is resulting in food wastage of 6 to 18 per cent which calculated at Rs 45,000 crore is equal to the total food consumed by England", she added. 

Speaking on the occasion, Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said diversification would become a reality with creation of more food parks including the one coming up in Kapurthala. He said farmers could earn as much as Rs 1 to 1.5 lakh by supplying their produce to the various food parks.  He also announced that a textile unit was also likely to be set up in this belt which would give a boost to cotton farmers as well as cotton industry.

Mr Badal lauded the food park promoters for providing more than 700 jobs to local youth and said more youngsters would be employed in the park once other companies also established their units in the 55 acre facility.

Meanwhile giving details of the food park, it's CMD Sukhinder Singh said the 55 acre food park had come up at a cost of Rs 136 crore. He said the mega food park would have facilities for processing milk and milk products besides packaging vegetables and fruits. He said the park had tied up production and marketing with renowned companies.