Nearly 80 percent of Haryana's total geographical area is under cultivation. However, the plight of particularly small and marginal farmers, women and agricultural labourers, in terms of income, productivity, sustainability and livelihood security, has been a matter of concern. There is a shortage of proper marketing, storage, processing and packaging facilities within the state to help the vegetable and horticulture growers. The issue has been raised by the farmers again and again with the government agencies such as Haryana Kisan Ayog where they complained about the paucity of cold storage, processing, and packing and proper marketing facilities for different produce, especially the perishable commodities. They have made various representations on damage of their perishable nature of commodities because of inadequate numbers of cold storage and processing units nearby producing areas. They have repeatedly yet unsuccessfully pointed out the need for value addition, processing and storage units, especially for horticulture and vegetable crops and that there is a dire need to develop and popularise the processing and value addition units including cold chain facilities and storage units for perishables in rural areas.
Instead of low cost small scale agro-industries in rural areas, agro-processing industries are there mostly in and around cities. The thrust for such industries should have been in the rural regions for processing surpluses which would have helped reducing the post-harvest losses and generated much needed rural employment opportunities.
It's not surprising, therefore, that the Haryana government Vision Document 2013, suggests that the state's food processing industry is highly fragmented, comprising of a few large-scale international players and a multitude of small-scale players and cottage industries in the state.
Morevoer, there are no APEDA-notified agri-export zones in Haryana, though food parks at Rai (Sonepat) and Saha (Ambala) are being developed and maintained by the Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC).
The processing of foodgrains and oils (including those of cereals like rice and wheat, mustard and rapeseed), constitute 75 percent of an estimated 2,248 food processing units registered in the state. Compare this with Punjab's which has about 23,145 units operational in the micro and small scale sector (with a total investment of about Rs. 1,258 crore), about 14 units in the medium scale (with a total investment of about Rs. 145 crore) and 77 units in the large-scale sector (with an investment of about Rs. 4,251 crore). As per data by the Punjab government, the state has set up 33 mega agro-processing projects, with a total investment of about Rs. 2,762 crore, and an additional about 20 mega projects in the agro and allied sectors, such as ethanol manufacturing, grain-based distilleries, sugar, baby food and health foods, with a total investment of about Rs. 2,680 crore.
Incidentally, Rs. 26.01 crore was the total fund allocated to Punjab for National Mission on Food Processing in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17), and Haryana is only marginally behind with a total allocation of fund of Rs. 24.32 crore. It is though a different matter that Uttar Pradesh with 122.55 crore, Andhra, 82.25 crore, Madhya Pradesh, 82.45 crore, Rajasthan 85.98 crore, Bihar, Rs. 62.66 crore, Gujarat 60.78 crore, have much higher share in the planned allocation.
Recognising the huge potential of Haryana in processed food sector, the Union Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) in its Vision document-2015, has envisaged creation of a world-class National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management as an apex institution in the field of food technology and management in Haryana. It would work actively in assisting in setting food standards, businesses incubation and information sharing.
Yet efforts are needed to realise this huge potential for growth in various sectors of the food processing sector in Haryana. These sectors include dairy, meat and poultry, ready-to-eat segment, fruits and vegetables, and consumer foods.