International Conference on Recent Advances in Food Processing Technology (iCRAFPT) was held at Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IFPT), Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. The theme of the conference was “Doubling farmers’ income through food processing”.
This conference will be a valuable and important platform for inspiring international and interdisciplinary exchange at the forefront of food research. Over the course of three days, internationally renowned speakers will share their research experiences in the areas of advances in food engineering and its industrial applications, food product development, food biotechnology, nano-foods.
Most of the agricultural products are not consumable in their original form, for which they are processed. Wheat is converted into flour, Paddy into rice, sugarcane into jaggery, Sugar, ethanol, alcohol etc. These products can be further processed such as flour into bread. Apart from this, leftover part of the crop such as risk husk can also be processed to get some useful product for e.g. Rice Bran oil, cattle feed, Sugarcane bagasse can be used for power cogeneration.
Hence, food processing not merely adds value to the agro products but also increases their utility. We know that activities in an economy are broadly divided into Agriculture, industry, and Services. Food processing Industry is the product of agriculture and Industry.
India Food Processing Industry is estimated at $135 billion industry which is growing at about 8% annually. This growth rate is significantly more than the agricultural growth rate which remains around 4%. These signals indicate toward phenomenal shift toward food processing in traditional ways.
FPI is employment intensive industry; it can be an answer to the jobless growth of past decade. Currently, only 3 % of employment is in FPI, while in developed countries it handles 14% population. Again, much of the employment will be created in rural India. This can remedy the problem of distress migration. Growth in direct employment in the organized food processing sector stands at 6 % between 2011-12.
The key challenges identified overall for the food processing sector in India are as follows:
Poor supply chain linkages: India’s agriculture market has a long and fragmented supply chain that results in high wastage and high costs, especially due to seasonality, perishability, and variability of produce.
Infrastructure bottlenecks: The export-related infrastructure for agri-produce is grossly inadequate, especially at seaports and airports. More than 30 percent of the produce from the fields gets spoilt due to poor post-harvesting facilities and lack of adequate storage infrastructure.
Lack of skilled manpower: The agricultural workforce is inadequately skilled across different levels of food processing.
Low adherence to quality standards: India lacks basic standardization and certification infrastructure. Given the size of the food processing industry, there is a huge gap in the availability of laboratories, trained manpower, and certification agencies.