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Webdesk, TNI Kolkata 29th August, 2021: Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MCCI) organized a Special Session on “Developments and Opportunities of Food Processing & Horticulture Sector of West Bengal” with Dr. Subrata Gupta, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Food Processing & Horticulture, Government of West Bengal on August 24, 2021 at 2.30 p.m. at MCCI Conference Hall. Mr. Aakash Shah, President, MCCI in his Welcome Address said that West Bengal is one of the fore-runners in Food Processing & Horticulture sector. This is only natural given the state is blessed with six agro-climatic zones that offers great bio-diversity for agricultural production. Since 2011, the State has managed to ensure coverage of 14,82,696 hectares under fruits, flowers, vegetables, spices and plantation crops.
Mr. Shah also mentioned that West Bengal has two important Food Parks already established in the Districts of Malda and Howrah, while the Jangipur Bengal Mega Food Park Ltd at Murshidabad over 82.11 Acres of land is one of the 6 mega food parks operational in the country today. Mr. Shah on behalf of MCCI appreciated the Department of Food Processing and Horticulture, Government of West Bengal for pursuing several path breaking initiatives for the development of this sector even amidst the ongoing crisis, that includes Hi-Tech horticulture cultivation, Promotion of organic farming, a model nursery in Jalpaiguri for fruit production, to name a few.
Dr. Subrata Gupta, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Food Processing & Horticulture, Government of West Bengal shared that since last two year our state has faced twin impact of COVID and natural calamities like Amphan and Yash. However, unlike some other sectors, the food processing sector has had better fortunes given the need for food is a basic need for everyone. Diversified consumption pattern due to modern lifestyles has led to rising market demand for processed and packaged food items or immunity boosting food items. Dr. Gupta mentioned that even though West Bengal one of the largest food producing state all over the country, only 2.8% of the produce is processed, while more than 27% is wasted before going to the market. These are challenges for farmers in the state, most of the farmer in the state is small or marginal and they also have small holdings and minimal storage capacity.
Dr. Gupta shared that there is major gap between crops production and practice of storing these crops. He suggested that while the Government can act as a facilitator, it is willing to partner with the private sector in PPP mode on different projects and initiatives like post-harvest storage, pack house facilities, Gamma Irradiation, etc.