Why West Bengal

Focus West Bengal- Siliguri
In food and agro processing sector West Bengal is one of the three front running states in India. Fruits, Vegetables and Cereals grave in abundance in West Bengal.  The state accounts 30% of potatoes, 27% pineapples, 12% of bananas and 16% of India’s rice production. Additionally fruits like mangoes, papayas, guava and jackfruit and vegetables like tomatoes, cauliflowers cabbage, eggplant and pumpkin are available in plenty.  Thus West Bengal in terms of agriculture is the largest producer of rice, pineapple, vegetables and fruits in the country, second largest producer of potatoes and lychees.

In the state, the main processed products in the Fruits and vegetables category are jams, jellies, pickles, sauce, canned sliced fruits and squash.

It ranks 1st in total meat production including poultry in the country. It accounts for 10% of the country’s edible oil production.  West Bengal is also one of the leading states in pisiculture as fish is an important item in the Bengali Cuisine.  The state has been awarded the 1st Prize for 8 consecutive years for its achievements in the fishery sector.  It is the largest producer of fish in the country and also the largest supplier of fish and supplies nearly 80% of the crop seed demand of the country.  It is the highest producer of shrimps also.

Agro and food processing industries form a very important part of the state’s economy.  The West Bengal government is setting up a number of policies and plans to focus on the selected areas like vegetables, fruits, fisheries, rice, poultry, dairy and floriculture.  Some of these plans includes more money involvement in agriculture, encourage private entrepreneurship for processing of fruits, vegetables & horticulture items etc.  The State Govt. is encouraging the farmers for mechanization through the use of modern agriculture implements and machines form timely farm operation and reduction in the cost of production.

Agro Food parks are being developed in the state with the intention of providing support to small & medium entrepreneurs by assisting them financially in setting up capital intensive facilities like cold storages, warehouses, quality control labs, effluent treatment plants etc.

Major Entrepreneurs in West Bengal’s Food Industry:

1) As can Agro PE & Pvt. Ltd., a Pailan Group Company who have entered into a joint venture with AFT/PB Conseil of France for setting up a food processing unit in Dhaniakhali, Hooghly to produce potato flakes.

2) Frito – Lay a division of PepsiCo has set up a potato processing unit in Howrah.

3) Arambagh Hatcheries was set up in 1975 and has grown by over 30% per year marketing poultry products and has also ventured into a chain of mini supermarkets selling groceries to cold meat and ready-to-cook food items.

4) Companies like Unilever and Nestle have expressed interest to set up food producing unit in the state.

5) Dabur Limited has set up a food processing unit in North Bengal

Food processing industry can flourish in WB due to various factors. Firstly, there is a vast availability of agro raw material resources. Secondly, the climate of West Bengal is suitable for the plantation of various citrus fruits. Thirdly, low cost skilled labour is readily available in the state. Lastly, its location is perfect for large domestic markets & easy access to markets of Asia Pacific. But this field is yet to be explored to the fullest. There are few local players in this field namely Pran, Priya, Ganesh, Pou Chong, MPS Group & so on. The quality of products of these companies are moderate not equivalent to the international standards. Thus West Bengal needs business entrepreneurs to come from outside & invest in this sector.

Suggested Action Plans:

  • Government (Centre and state) initiative to educate farmers on the importance of cooperatives in the form of Farmers’ Groups at local level. Apart from forming the cooperatives, experienced guidance required on how to run such bodies on both commercial and administrative levels.
  • Transport Subsidy should be given by the government in order to help growers to move their produce to the nearest markets. Also, road linkage from growing regions to nearest state/national highway ought to be a priority.
  • State horticulture board with support from various associations should organize seller-buyer meetings in order to provide better market to the producers. It would certainly help them in getting new and better market with current market prices.
  • Identification of cluster based products by their geographical locations. Promotion of such clusters/ product specific Village/ leverage and promote unified approach to development.
Food processing units need be set up through Public Private Partnerships with Farmers Association/Groups. These PPP models can be developed through government support in getting training and financial aid.

Chief Guest for NCCS 2015
Hon’ble Minister
Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal,
Minister for Food
Processing Industries,
Government of India
Indian Chamber of Commerce, New Delhi
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