National Food Grid
The NDA government had proposed to develop a National Food Grid. The idea first came forward in July 2014 as an announcement by the food processing industries minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal. In December 2014, the minister launched first ever such report titled “Fruits & Vegetables Availability Maps of India Booklet” focusing on the availability of fruits and vegetables pan India. This booklet, also called as National Food Map, depicts what is grown where; and the surplus and deficit status of various commodities at the national as well as state level. This booklet was touted by the minister as first step towards National Food Grid.
The proposed National Food Grid has the following objectives:
- To connect the deficient areas with producing regions and reduce wastage of fruits and vegetables
- To ensure stable food prices and contain food price inflation
Under the National Food Grid, the Government will divide the products and districts into ‘critical’ and ‘non-critical categories’. There is a proposed tax holiday for critical districts. The government also proposed to make available real time online information on essential food stocks, perishable fruits & vegetables, poultry, fisheries and dairy products. The surplus food will be swiftly transported to deficit areas to reduce seasonal disparity in prices.
Conceptually, a national food grid may be an excellent idea. Viewed in conjunction with a nation-wide borderless food market, this proposal certainly merits consideration to provide a fillip to the food processing sector. Viewed as analogous to the electricity grid, it makes sense if there is a grid which can swiftly transport essential food commodities from surplus regions to deficient regions. But making such things reality on ground needs proper planning and approach. The prerequisites are real time data availability and presence of a national cold chain grid; and a mechanism to make faster decision at the times of price spikes. None of these things are easy to achieve.
In March 2015, the Government made it clear in Lok Sabha that there is no proposal at present under consideration to set up National Food Grid for the promotion of food processing industries in the country.