First mega food park to start operations in August

February 25th, 2009 - 8:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Haridwar, Feb 25 (IANS) The first of the 10 mega food parks being set up in the country under the 11th Five-Year Plan will become operational here in August with yoga guru Swami Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurveda as its main stakeholder.
Announcing this at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Patanjali Food and Herbal Park near here Wednesday, Acharya Balkrishna, head of Patanjali Ayurveda, said: “I am happy to announce that even as we lay the foundation today, the park will formally open on August 4 this year.”

To be set up at a cost Rs.500 crore (Rs.5 billion), the park will have 32 processing units to obtain value-added fruit and vegetable products like juice, pulp, puree, candies, herbal products and pickles.

“We had started work on the park even before the ministry of food processing industries had started the scheme and hence much of our infrastructure is complete and orders for machines already placed,” Acharya Balkrishna said.

“However, when we came to know of the scheme whose objectives were the same as ours, we decided to take the government’s help.”

According to Acharya Balkrishna, the new plant will have a capacity of 500 tonnes output a day.

“That means all the fruit and vegetable produced in Uttarakhand will not last even three months. Hence we will have to source raw materials from neighbouring regions like western Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and other parts of the country,” he said.

The new mega park, coming up over 100 acres, is being set up after a special purpose vehicle (SPV) was created for the purpose. Patanjali Ayurved holds the 25 percent stake in the SPV - the largest among a host of other investors.

While a unit for powder and extract making of herbs is being planned at a later stage, a bio-diesel project using jatropha and crude palm oil plant is also in the pipeline.

The park will have a central processing centre (CPC) with a catchment area of 100 km radius. The CPC will have both primary and secondary processing facilities, supporting infrastructure as well as centres for training, capacity building, trade, marketing, office and administration.

There will be six other primary processing centres, which will require 25 acres.

Earlier, while interacting with the media, Swami Ramdev said the food processing sector has a growth potential ranging from Rs.5,000 crore to Rs.100,000 crore (Rs.50 billion to Rs.1 trillion).

Food Processing Industries Minister Subodh Kant Sahai, who was the chief guest at the foundation stone laying ceremony, called upon the Uttarakhand government to abolish its Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act.

“With this act, farm produce is taxed at 12 percent. If you remove this tax and make this sector tax-free or have a maximum tax limit of 4 percent, then this state, which is mainly horticulture-based, will benefit immensely,” he said.

Apart from Haridwar, the other nine parks will come up at Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh, Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu, Chikmagalur in Karnataka, Shirwal in Maharashtra, Nalbari in Assam, Jangipur in West Bengal, Ranchi in Jharkhand, Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh and Jalandhar in Punjab in the next two years.

In all, 30 such parks are being envisaged in the 11th Plan period.

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