Monday, June 29, 2009

Food Processing Industry Should be More Active to Ensure Agriculture A Larger Share in India's Gdp emphasizes Bihar's Industry Secretary

India is one of the largest producers of vegetables and fruits in the world with an annual production more than 80 million tonnes, only next to China. However, though India's GDP has recently crossed the trillion dollar mark taking it up to the elite club of 12 top economies, agriculture still comprises a mere 20% of the country's GDP despite the fact that it is the source and means of livelihood for almost 2/3rd of the country's workforce. The Planning Commission has , however, laid down a growth target of at least 4% for this sector in the 11th Five Year Plan as against the achieved growth rate of 2% in the 10th Plan. And within India, Bihar is such a State that has got a very fertile land capable of multicropping and a set of very skilled and cheap labor, where agriculture and agro-based industries can thrive to their fullest capacity. It is fast coming up as the most sought after destination for the food processing industry in the eastern part of the nation. Concentrating on these various areas of potentiality of the food processing sector of the State of Bihar, CII, Eastern Region in partnership with the Department of Industries , Government of Bihar organized a "Road Show: Destination Bihar" in Kolkata, on 26 June, Friday, 2009.

Inaugurating the Road Show, the Chief Guest of the session, Mr. Ashok Kr. Sinha, Principal Secretary, Department of Industries, Government of Bihar emphasized in his inaugural address on three major points of potential, policy and environment which according to him makes the State of Bihar an attractive investment destination. He stated that despite the fact that Bihar is a fertile State complete with skilled and cheap labor, what is most important in today's date is the right pricing of the agricultural produce for which food processing industry needs to play a very active role. Keeping this vision in mind, he informed that the Bihar Government has formulated a very open and liberal industrial policy. And for the potential investors in the food processing industry the policy kitty has been made further more attractive taking the State forward in the league compared to other regions. According to Sinha, under this liberal industrial policy of Bihar, any potential investor in the food processing industry can avail the various facilities already in place under the Bihar Industrial Policy 2006, like 80% VAT reimbursement, 50% capital subsidy in the sphere of captive power generation etc coupled with an extra added advantages like 40% capital subsidy and an absolute no bar or objection on behalf of the State Government on any subsidy or facility what the investor wants to avail from the Central Government.

The keynote address was delivered by Mr. S. Mukherjee, Director, Bihar Electricity Board in which he provided a preview of the power scenario in Bihar. According to him, though a mere 3 to 4 years before, the power scenario of Bihar used to be really very scary, but , currently things have changed for better to a great extent. According to him, 3-4 years back, the power requirement in Bihar was something around 600-700 MW which has presently increased to more than double � something around 1800-2200 MW during the peak season. As he added that post Jharkhand formation, all the major power producing units like Patrapur Thermal Plant, Tenughat, Subarnarekha etc went away from the hands of the Bihar Government leaving behind zero producing units like that of Barauni and Muzzafarpur. But currently, Bihar Electricity Board has been able to generate on its own an average of about 160-170MW of power from these two units coupled with about 50MW of power from the various small units of Hydel power in the State, informed Mukherjee. Apart from this , Bihar also gets its allocated share of 1550 MW of electricity from the Central Sector Grid. He also informed that within the next 12-18months, about 440 MW of extra electricity will be available from the Barauni and Muzzafarpur units which are under renovation under the supervision of BHEL and NTPC for which an amount of about Rs1071 crores have been sanctioned. Apart from these, the Bihar Government is also in the process to notify a bidding process to buy about 1500 MW of electricity from various prospective bidders by 2010, thus accumulating about 3200 MW of total power which he expects is a very promising picture for prospective investors. Transmission and Distribution facilities are also undergoing major overhauling , informed Mukherjee.

While delivering his theme address, Mr. Satyajit Singh, Chairman, CII, Bihar State Council said that Bihar has changed a lot and the State has entered into a new phase of Governance where there are ample scopes for a fruitful partnership between the private investors and the Bihar Government which can ensure better returns.

Prior to that , Mr. Kurush Grant, Deputy Chairman, CII (Eastern Region) said in his welcome address that though India is a fertile country but there is an urgent need for increased productivity, post harvest technology and processing and infrastructure for the focused growth of the nation's agricultural sector. Grant said, that the Bihar Government has done with a very timely proposition in incorporating the food policy which will go a long way to help in diversification and commercialization of the sector resulting in employment generation, value addition and also export opportunities.

The august audience present at the Road Show were enlightened by a Film Show titled "Bihar Has Changed � Food Processing Policy" which uphold the pretty conducive industrial and social environment of Bihar and focused on its tremendous opportunity.

The Vote of Thanks to the Inaugural Session was delivered by Dr. Saugat Mukherjee, Regional Director, CII (ER).

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