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Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce & Industry organised “MCCI Food Processing & Horticulture Conclave” on March 6, 2024 at Park Hotel, Kolkata.

The Theme of the Conclave was “Food Processing & Horticulture in West Bengal: The Road Ahead”.
The Conclave was addressed Dr. Subrata Gupta, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Food Processing Industries & Horticulture, Shri Partha Mandal, General Manager, NABARD, Shri Sitakanta Mandal, Regional Head (E.R.), APEDA and Col. Sujay Kumar, Regional Director, FSSAI.
Dr. Subrata Gupta, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Food Processing Industries & Horticulture in his address mentioned that India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables after China. In 2021-22, India produced about 205 million MT of vegetables and 107 million MT of fruits and West Bengal ranks first or second in vegetables and seventh to ninth in fruits. However, one sixth of the production is wasted as appropriate technology is not used.
Dr. Gupta said that there is huge potential to invest in harvesting, storage, transport and processing. In a recent year, West Bengal exported about INR 5700 cr. of vegetables and INR 5500 cr. of fruits.
He elaborated that problems faced by entrepreneurs in food processing sector include poor CIBIL Score, Lack of Balance Sheet and Lack of Experience.
Lastly Dr. Gupta mentioned that only 25% cultivated land is used to grow food and 75% is used for animal husbandry. Animals have Poor Feed Conversion Ratio and Protein Conversion Ratio.
Shri Partha Mandal, General Manager, NABARD in his address expressed that if FPOs come up with Micro Food Production Units, such as households, then it can create wonders.
Shri Mandal informed that out of 900 FPOs in the State, around 400 are under NABARD. NABARD has already organized over 5 lakh farmers under FPOs in West Bengal.
Shri Mandal spoke about Open Network For Digital Commerce (ONDC) which helps the small producers to onboard their products in e-commerce.
Shri Sitakanta Mandal, Regional Head (E.R.), APEDA in his address said that there are already 750 products under APEDA and in West Bengal 73 active exporters for fresh fruits and vegetables.
While speaking on challenges of exporters, Shri Mandal pointed out that high air freight charges are creating problem for the horticulture exporters. He also emphasized the process of Farm Registration because it is now mandatory for the exporters who are willing to export to European Union and he also requested the State Government to set up laboratory testing for products. Shri Mandal further suggested the private public partnership for cultivating honey in Sundarbans as it is in high demand.
Col. Sujay Kumar, Regional Director, FSSAI in his address said that FSSAI is expecting to provide safe and wholesome food. The Eat Right India Initiative aims to train 25 lakh food handlers in the near future.
Shri Kumar spoke about Clean Food Hub for street venders and FSSAI has taken initiative for local food venders in Kolkata.
Shri Namit Bajoria, President, MCCI in his Welcome Address said that Food Processing and Horticulture is one of the key drivers of India’s economy in terms of its contribution to GDP, employment, and investment. Accelerated growth in the food processing sector along with simultaneous improvement in the development of the value chain is important to achieve favourable terms of trade for Indian agriculture in domestic and international markets.
Shri Suresh Agarwal, Chairman, Council on Agriculture, Horticulture and Food Processing, MCCI in his said that it is the best time for leveraging Public-Private Partnerships in developing the food processing industry. The State Government has also set up Agro Food Parks to provide support to small & medium entrepreneurs by assisting them financially in setting up capital-intensive facilities like cold storage, warehouses, quality control labs, effluent treatment plants, etc.
The Session was concluded with the hearty Vote of Thanks, proposed by Shri Sanjay Rasiwasia, Chairman, Council on Tea & Jute, MCCI

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