Every farmer household should be a self-help group: Harsimrat Kaur

 Every farmer house should be a self-help group where all family members are engaged in producing, processing, value-addition and marketing of their agricultural produce, Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has said.

Ludhiana: Every farmer house should be a self-help group where all family members are engaged in producing, processing, value-addition and marketing of their agricultural produce, Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has said.

"Family members of farmers should engage in producing, processing, value-addition and marketing of their agricultural produce by acting as self-help groups," she said here today.

Inaugurating the one?day national seminar on 'Augmenting Processing and Shelf-Life of Perishable Food Products' at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), she said setting-up of food processing industry will help in reducing food wastage, increasing food availability, bringing down inflation and uplifting the economic standards of farmers.

"Despite India ranking first in milk production, second in fruits and vegetables production, and third in fish production, food losses account for 18 per cent," she pointed out.

There is an urgent need to take processing to the farm level, she emphasised, while praising Maharashtra for preparing non-alcoholic wine from fruits and vegetables like kinnow and karela (bitter gourd).

She said her ministry offers a grant of Rs 50 crore for setting-up of mega food park on 50 acres of land.

Recently, the newly established mega food park in Karnataka has been highly appreciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she added.

"A mega food park is also likely to come up in Fazilka district of Punjab by October," she said, adding that the Centre-sponsored schemes for establishment of cold chains or for enhancing farm processing are also available.

In addition, she suggested the use of a 'Reaper Van' which collects the farm produce from farmers for processing.

She said her ministry also gives grants for setting-up of testing laboratories for maintaining safety standards.

Therefore, Punjab should come forward to avail these schemes and suggest some other schemes as well for promoting food-processing industry in the state, she added.