Participants all ears at the seminar on food processing in Ranchi on Monday. (Hardeep Singh)
Jharkhand is looking to capitalise on the food sector, with scattered potential across the state as it is, to make up for the lack of big-ticket industries that have chosen to stay away because of land and security issues.
Industries secretary Himani Pande indicated the state’s preference at a seminar titled, National Mission on Food Processing & Skill Enhancement of Entrepreneurs, at a city hotel on Monday, assuring prospective investors that the state had enough land to help them out if they chose to come.
“Land is absolutely not an issue, but we have a dearth of genuine food processing firms willing to invest in Jharkhand. I want to assure private partners that we will extend all cooperation at the government level to those willing to set up shop in our state,” Pande said.
She maintained the state was trying to start the much-delayed mega food park at Angara block of Ranchi by the year-end.
“Construction is on full swing and many facilities like common centres and shops, are almost complete. The site is advantageous from the point of view of connectivity to major towns and cities and availability of water and power. Firms in the food business should invest here,” she said.
Pande revealed the state was also working to establish temple town of Deoghar as a hub for textiles and food processing.
“There, around 530 acre is under government possession and we are serious about this project too. All we need are private players who can partner with us in this endeavour,” she said.
On why the department was aggressively pursuing foods, Pande said the sector had a lot of untapped potential.
“For example, Jharkhand produces tomato in large quantities but it is unorganised. Hence, farmers suffer. Most importantly, fertiliser usage in agriculture is almost nil, which gives us the option of pursuing organic certification of our fruits and vegetables. This is where cold chains, food processing, packaging come into play,” she explained, adding that unlike other mega projects the food business did not require a lot of land.
According to industries director Dipankar Panda, Monday’s workshop, the first of its kind in the state, was aimed at providing details about the state to potential investors.
“We invited many experts of national repute from the food processing sector who spoke about latest technology, scope, and how to go about setting up industries. We are also using this platform to sensitise entrepreneurs on state government schemes and subsidies to enable them to plan better,” he said.