Use locally-available raw material: Speaker to food processing industry

PANAJI: Stating that the state government has several schemes to boost exports of organic and processed foods, Speaker of Goa legislative assembly Pramod Sawant on Monday advised Goan food processors to use local raw material to be successful in their ventures.

“Goan food processors should study locally available raw material before starting a venture,” he said, adding that locally grown jackfruit and cashew apples offer considerable potential for value-addition. He said that 90 per cent of jackfruits in the state is wasted or fed to animals although it can be easily used to manufacture chips and a range of value-added products.

The Speaker of the legislative assembly also gave the example of coconut coir which is an Rs 400-crore worth industry in Kerala but unfortunately burnt by Goan farmers because of disinclination to get into coir-based products.

Sawant was the key speaker at a training programme-cum-conference for Goan MSMEs in food processing industry.

He said that a 15-member coir cluster funded through the PMEGP loan scheme of the central government is on the verge of being commissioned in the state. Organised by ASSOCHAM together with NABARD-Goa, SBI and the state government, the programme for the first time brought stakeholders together, including officials from the department of agriculture, ICAR-old Goa, FDA, animal husbandry department, etc.

“Agro and food processing is sun rise sector in India with low risk factor,” said Manguirish Pai Raikar, chairman, MSME ASSOCHAM. Others in the conference included KL Nayak, assistant general manger, NABARD-Goa and Suyansh Asthana, general manager, SBI.

Nayak said that in the absence of food parks in the state, NABARD is recommending setting up of clusters of food units to facilitate funding to the sector.

The half-day programme aimed at educating potential startups on opportunities in the food-processing sector. Participants said that they are eager to do value addition in local produce. A piggery unit owner revealed that food-processing of pork products is hampered by local opposition to pig farms.