There is some good news for vendors, farmers and the common man in the hill state of Uttarakhand as this northern region is poised to become the frozen peas hub of the country by gaining the credibility of catering to domestic consumption of processed food items made from peas and vegetables.
In a bid to give boost to the processed food industry, the state government is preparing an action plan to create an effective distribution and marketing system for striking a balance between production and marketing of processed food items for the benefit of farmers. Devised and approved by ministry of food processing industries (MoFPI) and Horticulture Technology Mission, the action plan envisages private partnership in the food processing sector for the promotion and establishment of food processing units.
As of today, Uttarakhand boasts of 14 such processing units spread across the state in districts like Dehradun, Nainital, Haridwar and Uddham Singh Nagar.
Based on IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) technique, the processing units in these districts have started giving an output of 40,000 to 60,000 metric tonne of processed food items from frozen peas and other processed food items like mushroom, sweet corn and processed vegetables. Besides these, these units, owing to their sustainability, have been producing squash, jam, ketchup and juices, which have been instrumental in utilising the horticulture resources to the tune of 1 lakh metric tonne.
“The setting up of food processing units in the private sector has led to the investment of Rs 11,702 lakh and bank loans to the tune of Rs 7,196 lakh,” informed a senior official from the state food processing department.
The farmers have been able to get the benefits through these processing units as they have been able to set up strong buy back linkages and have been able to grow commercially viable crops, he pointed out.
In order to fulfil the demand of processing units, the state horticulture department has expanded the crop area for the production of peas and other crops by promoting and motivating the farmers. “The state government has also been able to create a link between the farmers and these units for the promotion and adoption of buy-back linkages so that farmers can sell their produce at the site of food processing unit itself,” said Dr B P Nautiyal, an expert on horticulture and food processing, Uttarakhand.
Success of the plan is also evident from the fact that farmers have been able to sell their produce at a good price because the average cost of the peas have increased in the past few years and they are able to get good returns after selling their produce, according to Dr Nautiyal.
“This has not only led to get a decent income to the farmers but units have made the availability of raw material easier, which can be used as a substitute for fertilisers and manure in the farm lands,” Dr Nautiyal explained.
The feasibility of the project is evident from the fact that setting up of the first unit by the state horticulture department bore fruit in Kashipur of Uddham Singh Nagar district. The processing unit of the capacity of 2,500 metric tonne gave a good output of 2,000 metric tonne of peas alone in the first year, which today has increased and has translated into an output of 6,000 metric tonne of fresh frozen peas.
There is consumption of over 90,000 metric tonne of peas in the country as of today, which is supplied by around 36 units spread across the country. Uttarakhand contributes 40 per cent of the demand. Uttarakhand has today evolved as a hub of fresh frozen peas and the concept of farm to plate has materialised in the real sense through an integrated, sustainable and commercially viable approach.