New Delhi: India and the ASEAN nations have the potential to dominate the world food market by maximising opportunities in the processing sector, Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said today.
Each of the 10 southeast Asian nations of the ASEAN group can benefit from each other's experiences and share technologies in the field of food processing, she added. The 10 ASEAN group members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam.
Badal also called for the optimum utilisation of limited natural resources and reduction of the post harvest farm losses.
"All eastern countries, who are in close proximity, could actually play an important role in exchange of ideas and know-how, and become really a strong and powerful area to control the world food market," Badal said the ASEAN-India Business meet organised by industry body CII.
The future food needs will be met by eastern countries, she said, adding that western nations have breached a threshold of crop yields. "The future lies in eastern economies, which are largely dependent on agriculture.
No matter how big or small a country, agriculture plays a key role in all eastern countries," she said. Therefore, both India and ASEAN nations should come together to become major food supplier in the global food market.
"This is because in future, if there is any de- stability, it could be due to food or water," she noted. Highlighting measures taken by India to promote food processing, Badal said the government has launched a agro- marine processing scheme SAMPADA to promote food processing with a budget of Rs 6,000 crore.
With improvement in the 'ease of doing business' here and rich availability of agri-produce, India has attracted USD 11.25 billion investment from the private companies in the food processing sector, she said.
The country's food processing level is only at 10 per cent currently and it wants to double it, she added. Speaking on the occasion, Lao People's Democratic Republic Minister to the PMO Alounkeo Kittikhoum suggested that India can assist ASEAN in improving crop yields and generating higher production through joint ventures and transfer of technologies.
Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) Chairman Devendra Kumar Singh said both India and ASEAN can collaborate to meet future food challenges.
India can help ASEAN nations to produce organic products besides being supplier of processing items such as lactose- free milk, gluten free wheat and nutrition-rice millets, he added. Expressing concern over decline in India's exports to ASEAN, Sunil Healthcare Chairman and Managing Director Anil Khaitan said that the outbound shipments have dropped since the signing of free trade pact with ASEAN in 2010. "I urge the government to look into the reasons behind this," he added.