How Natural Calamities in India have Transformed Food Processing Industry

Food Processing Industry

The last two decades in India have witnessed many natural calamities.  This has changed the landscape of horticulture and agriculture.

On one hand we have witnessed growth in the horticulture produce and on the other hand draught in pockets of India, unprecedented rains, ever-changing weather patterns, floods have increased the problems of farmers. Adding to these problems are the internal and individual issues of farmers; bank loans, small size of farmlands creating more and more marginal farmers which have added to the problems.

Poor marketing policies, growing input costs, the middlemen and the wholesale markets controlling the prices for the products has always put the farmer in a precarious position.

To add to all this is the present worldwide pandemic the deadly COVID 19 (Corona) which has really broken the back of marginal as well as farmers having bigger horticulture orchards. With the complete lockdown in the country, the entire economy has come to a complete standstill. Though there is some silver lining on the dark gloom of COVID 19 it will take quite some time for the economy to creep back to normal.

100’s and 1000’s farmers are destroying their produce for the lack of transportation, manpower for harvesting and the markets literally shut down. Exports of fresh produce have come to a complete stop, added to that is the recent fiasco in the Dubai Deira fruit and vegetable market, where a firm has cheated the food exporters to the tune of 810 tonnes of bananas, grapes, and coconuts, which has a created a sense of tension in the farmers, consolidators, exporters, economists and the policymakers alike.

The woes of the farmers are humongous and cannot be solved overnight. Unfortunately, the system and the politics have made them crippled over time. The disparity in the lifestyle has made the young generation move to the nearby cities with ambition and urge to have a better lifestyle.

Taking into account of all the uncertainties of life the time has come that the rural India becomes more self-reliant, financially independent and create more entrepreneurs in the MSME sector.

Way forward

Create more and more collection centers in the respective areas by forming producer companies. Start cold chains and distribution centers (primary processing centers) Start small and medium fruit and vegetable processing units in their respective areas.

Think out of the box for such units and enter into a niche market. There are a host of such MSME options that can be set up by willing entrepreneurs in food processing for the fruits and vegetable sector. We have seen a large spurt in the interest of entrepreneurs looking to set up food processing units across India. Also, it has to be understood that the needs of the Indian market and palates are very unique, and western models cannot be replicated here and so its easier for the Indian entrepreneurs who are familiar with local tastes and food practices to set up such plants than any other MNC entering the Indian market.

Why the need now more than ever?

This pandemic has and will bring more changes in the lifestyle even in the big and small cities the world over. The entire populace will opt for more clean and hygienic products, may it be fresh fruits and vegetables or processed fruits and vegetables. People will look for immunity-boosting food, organic food, and other healthy options. This will help the farmers overcome the erratic and fluctuating market prices through a backward integration to the industry. A sustainable minimum price for their produce and the job creation in their vicinity can help the rural India and economy to boost and also increase their financial position. The low cost of raw material and better storage options ensures that raw material is available throughout the year. We can discuss in detail the host of new opportunities available for entrepreneurs who could be interested to set up business units with budgets ranging from Rs.50lakhs to upwards of Rs.5Cr.

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