Agriculture and Food Processing Minister Sharad Pawar will inaugurate the national level conference. On the occasion, he will also launch an e-portal on the food processing sector, an official statement said.

The objective of the conference is to find ways to energies the sector by addressing the problems faced by state governments in using plan funds and other state related issues in implementing various schemes.

Many states have not been able to properly utilize funds allocated in 2012-13 and also this year, under various food schemes, including the National Mission on Food Processing. As state governments' participation assumes significance for proper implementation of schemes, the Conference will deliberate on efficient use of plan funds and address their concerns including matters related to taxation, especially mandi tax on processed food and other market reforms.

The food processing sector has been growing at a faster pace in the last few years. The sector grew at an average annual rate of 8.6 percent in the 11th Five Year Plan ending 2011-12, higher than farm and manufacturing sectors.

In 2011, nearly 17 lakh people were employed by food processing industries and another 48 lakh in the unorganized food processing activities. To encourage food processing, the government has started several programmes with an aim to provide assistance for a range of activities including setting up of Mega Food Parks and cold chain infrastructure, modernizing abattoirs, upgrading food testing labs and quality control.

(Agencies)

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