The Government is actively considering a proposal to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in non-food items, along with food products, under the multi-brand retail policy and a decision may be taken ahead of the mega world food event in New Delhi in November.
According to a PTI report: An indication to this effect was given by Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal after her meeting with ministers from different states to chalk out plans for the 3-day event starting 3 November.
Badal said investors from several countries have demanded that they be allowed to sell non-food items along with food products processed and manufactured in India under the multi-brand FDI policy. “I have placed their suggestions before the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) and a Cabinet decision is required,” she was quoted by PTI as saying.
The minister said the Government aims to address all issues concerning packaging, processing and marketing to ensure farmers get better prices and check post harvest wastage, which runs into thousands of crores annually.
Asked by when the decision on FDI in the non-food segment could be taken, Badal was quoted by PTI as saying: “I think before the mega World Food India event in November, this will be done.” India allows 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail while there is no cap in single brand retail.
During the meeting, the Union and state ministers also discussed a draft model food processing policy to enhance farmers’ income and reduce farm wastage. The draft norms will be put up for public comments and a final policy is expected to be unveiled before the world food event scheduled to be held in Delhi.
The Government is keen to bring out the policy with an aim to project India as the most preferred investment destination for the employment oriented agri-business and food processing. Replying to allegations of cancelling of a food park in Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, Badal said the project, sanctioned in 2008, was cancelled a long ago.
She said the project, which falls in the Lok Sabha constituency of Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, was to be completed in two years, but till 2014, not a single “brick was laid”. “Just before 2014 elections, a foundation stone for the park was laid. It was to mislead people,” she was quoted by PTI as saying. She further said Gandhi was free to submit a fresh proposal for setting up a food park in his constituency.