The Ministry of Food Processing Industries on Wednesday urged the Finance Ministry to consider a uniform VAT of 4 per cent on all basic processed foods, nil or low excise duty on food grains, condiments and spices, fruits and vegetables along with strong fiscal support for research and development (R&D) in the food processing sector.
Mr P.I. Suvrathan, Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, at a consultation meeting on `Strategy for Enhancing Growth and Competitiveness of the Food processing Sector in India organised by FICCI and the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council said, "The Ministry is looking beyond a time span of just five years and has zeroed in on four key areas - creation of a corporate structure at the district level in the shape of mega food parks, setting up of modern and hygienic abattoirs, upgradation in quality of street food and provision of fiscal incentives to drive the growth of the industry."
He said the Government had decided to set up mega food parks in 30 districts of the country at a cost of Rs 50 crore each. Under the scheme, the processor and the retailer would reach out to the farmer, especially marginal ones, tailor production and quality of the produce to raise farm productivity and meet the exacting export norms.
The results of the pilot food parks will be evaluated for the next three years before being replicated in other districts.
Describing meat processing as the most neglected area, the Secretary said, about 50 modern abattoirs would be established in the next two-three years with the provision of viability gap funding.