Agriculture allied activities
Allied activities are the important components of the agriculture sector and have a high revenue earning potential which is still not fully utilized in India. In this section, we will provide you with updates on the allied activities of the agriculture sector.
Food Processing Industries and reforms News/updates
“UN Food Systems Summit 2021” -India Holds National Dialogue
What is the News?
The Ministry of Agricultural and Farmers Welfare conducted a National Dialogue on UN Food Systems Summit 2021.
About UN Food Systems Summit,2021:
- The first-ever UN Food Systems Summit 2021 is expected to hold in September 2021. For that, the United Nations Secretary-General has called for members to participate.
- Purpose: The summit will strategize the actions for positive change in Agri-food systems in the world. It will help to realize the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- Focus: The Summit will focus on levers and pathways to shape food systems nationally and globally.
- Significance: The summit will be held as part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
Action Tracks: The Summit’s Action Tracks offer stakeholders to learn and share new actions, partnerships and to amplify existing initiatives. The five Action Tracks are:
- Track 1: Ensure access to safe and nutritious food for all.
- Track 2: Shift to sustainable consumption patterns.
- Track 3: Boost nature-positive production.
- Track 4: Advance equitable livelihoods.
- Track 5: Build resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks, and stress.
Why food systems?
- Firstly, the term “food system” refers to the constellation of activities involved in producing, processing, transporting, and consuming food.
- Secondly, food systems touch every aspect of human existence. The health of our food systems profoundly affects the health of our bodies as well as the health of our environment, our economies, and our cultures.
- Hence, when they function well, food systems have the power to bring us together as families, communities, and nations.
Union Cabinet approves PLI Scheme for Food Processing Industry
Why in the news?
The Union Cabinet approves the PLI(Production Linked Incentive) Scheme for Food Processing Industry (PLISFPI).
About PLI scheme for Food Processing Industry
- The scheme will be implemented over a six-year period from 2021-22 to 2026-27.
- Aim: The scheme aims to support the creation of global food manufacturing champions according to the natural resources of India.
Objectives of the Scheme
- Firstly, PLI scheme will support food manufacturing org with stipulated minimum Sales.
- Furthermore, it will support Indian brands of food products in the international markets with an outlay of Rs. 10900 crore.
- Moreover, it will increase employment opportunities for nearly 2.5 lakh persons by the year 2026-27.
- Finally, the scheme will ensure good prices for farm produce and higher income to farmers.
Salient features of the PLI scheme for Food Processing Industry
- First component of the scheme
- It will incentivize the manufacturing of four major food product segments:
- Marine Products,
- Mozzarella Cheese
- Processed Fruits & Vegetables
- Ready to Cook/ Ready to Eat (RTC/ RTE) foods
- Selected applicants will require investing in Plant & Machinery in the first two years i.e. in 2021-22 & 2022-23.
- The amount of Investment during 2020-21 will be counted for meeting investment requirements.
- The entities selected for making innovative/ organic products will be exempt from the Minimum Sales and mandated investment requirements.
- It will incentivize the manufacturing of four major food product segments:
- 2nd component of the scheme
- Under this component, support will be provided for branding and marketing abroad.
- The entity will receive grants for in-store Branding, shelf space renting, and marketing.
Implementation of the scheme
- Implemented by: Project Management Agency (PMA)
- Also, PMA will be responsible for verification of eligibility for support, scrutiny of claims eligible for disbursement of incentive.
- Furthermore, the scheme is “fund-limited”, i.e. the amount restricts to the approved limit. This amount will not exceed even in case of outstanding performance.
Rajya Sabha Passes “National Institutes of Food Technology Bill, 2019”
What is the news?
The Rajya Sabha passed the National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2019.
What does the bill provide?
The bill declares two institutes of food technology, entrepreneurship, and management as institutions of national importance. These are:
- National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management, Haryana
- Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology, Tamil Nadu.
What are Institutions of National Importance?
- An institution that serves as an important player in developing highly skilled personnel within the specified region of the country/state.
- The status is conferred on a premier public higher education institution in India by an act of the Parliament of India.
Benefits of National Importance Tag:
- Firstly, these institutes are provided functional autonomy to:
- design and develop courses
- Award Degrees such as Bachelor of Technology, Master of Technology, and Ph.D.
- Undertake research activities
- Secondly, the institutes would also implement the reservation policy of the government. It would also undertake special outreach activities for the benefit of concerned stakeholders.
- Lastly, the recognition would also enable the institutes to provide world-class teaching and research experience by adopting innovative practices.
Source: The Hindu
QCI Launches Recognition Scheme for Hygiene Rating Audit Agencies
Source: Click here
News: Quality Council of India(QCI) at the behest of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India(FSSAI) has launched a “Scheme for approval of Hygiene Rating Audit Agencies”.
- Objective: To scale up Hygiene Rating by increasing the number of recognised Hygiene Rating Audit Agencies in the country.
- Food Hygiene Rating Scheme: It is a certification system by FSSAI for food businesses supplying food directly to consumers, either on or off premise.The food establishments are rated based on food hygiene and safety conditions observed at the time of audit.
- Quality Council of India (QCI): It was set up in 1997 jointly by the Government of India and the Indian Industry to establish and operate national accreditation structure and promote quality through National Quality Campaign.
- Nodal Ministry: Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce & Industry is the nodal department for QCI.
- Chairman: The Chairman of QCI is appointed by the Prime Minister on the recommendation of the industry to the government.
- FSSAI: It is a statutory, autonomous body established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.It is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety.
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Honey adulteration and laws related to food adulteration in India
This analysis is developed based on the article “Leading honey brands fail adulteration test by foreign lab, says CSE” of Business Standard
News: In the most recent case of adulteration, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), 77% of honey samples were found to be adulterated with sugar syrup.
What are the Findings of CSE?
- Out of 13 big brands including Dabur, Patanjali, Baidyanath, Zandu, Hitkari, and Apis Himalaya etc., only 3 brands passed all the tests.
- Some of India’s famous honey brands, including Dabur, Patanjali, and Emami, although passed the tests in India, failed in adulteration tests carried out by German Laboratory.
- On the other hand, few smaller brands failed laboratory tests for both Indian and foreign standards.
- The level of adulteration in big brands is such that tests carried out by an Indian laboratory were unable to detect the contamination in top brands and could only be caught after the use of an advanced laboratory test called nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) in Germany.
- Natural honey acquired from bees is mixed with sugar syrup acquired from rice, corn, beetroot, and sugarcane.
- Domestic manufacturers are allegedly sourcing sugar syrup from China for contamination of honey as the sugar syrup is available at half the price of raw honey.
- The decreasing cost has been indicated by falling prices of raw honey at ~60-70 per kg now from ~150 per kg six years ago, despite increasing demand for honey among the general public.
- In the most recent development, all of the big brands have refuted the reports and allegations of adulteration.
What is food adulteration?
- In India, where the population is huge and the mechanism of monitoring is lax, acts of food adulteration have become a common phenomenon.
- Adulteration is the act of degrading the nature or quality of food by incidental or intentional means through the addition or mixing of poor quality, inferior, harmful, substandard, useless, or unnecessary substances to food.
- Adulteration lowers the quality of food and sometimes, toxic chemicals are also added which can be hazardous to health.
Food Adulteration has been defined comprehensively under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954. As per the act, food is adulterated if
- Any low-grade or inexpensive substance that has been replaced wholly or partly in the article making its nature, substance, or quality injurious;
- It contains any other substance which disturbs or is so processed as nature, substance or quality will have injurious effect;
- Any essential component of the article that has been wholly or partly distracted so as to affect injuriously nature, substance, or quality.
According to the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 the food articles containing some ingredients in excess of the prescribed amount which is not hazardous for consumption will not be considered adulterated.
Most common adulterants in India
- Corn starch, sawdust, and flour are used as ‘fillers’ in spices.
- Khoya is adulterated with paper, refined oil, and skimmed milk powder
- Milk has been adulterated with diluted water, detergent, fat, and even urea.
- Tea leaves are usually adulterated with the same colored leaves, some of which might not even be edible and cause liver infection.
- Wheat is very commonly adulterated with ergot, a fungus containing poisonous substances, and is extremely injurious to health.
- Oxytocin saccharin, wax, calcium carbide, and copper sulphate are very common adulterants in fruits and vegetables.
- Arhar dal is most commonly adulterated with metanil yellow. Long-term consumption of metanil yellow on the developing and adult brain causes neurotoxicity.
- Consumption of adulterated food items leads to the accumulation of a toxic substance in the body, which may further lead to heart failure, liver and kidney disorders.
Laws against food adulteration in India
Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSS Act, 2006)
- In 2006, the government enacted the FSS Act, which repealed all other laws governing food quality in India at that time. The act empowered the central government to frame rules under the act to deal with several aspects with respect to the regulation of food safety.
- FSSAI: Act established the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) to supervises and regulate food safety and standards. FSSAI is empowered to establish various other authorities like the Central Advisory Committee, Scientific Panels, and committees for consultation and opinions in the matters of food safety.
- Food Commissioners: The Act empowers the State Government to appoint a Commissioner of Food Safety for the State for effective implementation of the provisions at the State level.
- Food Safety officers: Food Commissioner is authorised to appoint Food Safety officers for each district.
- A food safety officer is the authorized person to inspect the safety and security of food that is being served in restaurants or street food stalls.
- In case the food inspected by an officer is not fresh or had got spoilt, the FSSAI officer has all the rights to stop the production of such food and issue a warning in writing to the organizer.
- Licensing: Act prohibits any person to operate any food business without a license from the designated officers.
- It provides for the punishment for the Import, manufacture, storage, sale or distribution of any food article which is adulterated and compensation to the victims.
- the Act also regulates the food products which can be imported.
Rules framed under the act
Following are some of the rules enacted by the government:
- Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulation, 2011.
- Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulation, 2011.
- Food Safety and Standards (Laboratory and Sampling Analysis) Regulation, 2011.
- Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Regulation, 2011.
Indian Penal Code, 1860
According to Section 272 and 273, food or drink adulteration or sale of such food or drink is an offense punishable with imprisonment which may extend to six months or fine or both.
FSSAI has set up an online platform named DART (Detect Adulteration with Rapid Test) for checking the quality of various food articles like milk, dairy products, oils, grains, fruits, vegetables, sugar, beverages, etc.
Consumer Protection Act, 2019
The Act provides for punishment by a competent court for the manufacture or sale of adulterant/spurious goods. The court may, in case of the first conviction, suspend any license issued to the person for a period of up to two years, and in case of second or subsequent conviction, cancel the license permanently.
Causes of adulteration
Profit motive: Big and small business owners are adulterating the products to maximize their profits by reducing the cost of producing them. For ex; in the case of honey, producers have been allegedly using sugar syrup which is less costly compared to raw honey.
Lack of technology: India is lacking the technology to detect the adulteration of high levels, such as in the present case of adulteration in Honey, Indian tests could not be able to detect the adulteration in the samples provided by the big brands.
Lesser Punishment: Punishment for adulteration, which may cause grievous injury to the human system and cause the disease like cancer, is not stringent.
Increasing food demand: With the growth of the population together with their purchasing power, demand for food products is also increasing at a fast pace. To meet this increasing demand, adulteration becomes a common phenomenon.
Lack of manpower: FSSAI has cited a shortage of food safety officers and laboratories as reasons for increasing the production of unsafe food products.
- The most important component for ensuring food safety is the people themselves. If people are aware of the on the spot quality assessment techniques of the products they might be able to avoid low-quality or harmful products.
- Thus, awareness must be spread on a wider scale among people for ensuring food safety through various social media platforms.
- One of the most potential post-purchase ways to check adulteration is by performing simple tests at homes. Consumers should also be aware of their rights and report the seller who has sold them adulterated food.
- People need to be very cautious when they buy products from stores and malls. They should check for standards like ISI standard mark, Agmark for quality products, FSSAI standard mark, date of packing and date of expiry, etc.
- One way of doing this is by hiking the penalty, including making it analogous to attempt to murder in some extreme cases of adulteration.
- Authentic testing of food and adulterant detection of various food products is required for value assessment.
- The government can set up more testing laboratories with acceptable charging fees, where the purity of food can be analyzed by sending a sample of food by the public.
The government should consider the following amendments proposed by FSSAI to FSS act, 2006:
- In extreme cases like deaths due to adulteration, Punishment for a term which shall not be less than 7 years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and also fine which shall not be less than Rs. 10 lakh.
- Increasing the punishment for obstructing, impersonating, intimidating, and threatening, and assaulting a food safety officer to the imprisonment of not less than 6 months and up to two years, besides a penalty of up to Rs 5 lakh.
Food Adulteration is a grievous crime as it has the potential to cause a long term injury to the health of a person which not only hurt people physically but also economically and socially, it is the duty of the government to protect its citizens from the hidden enemies of the society, playing with the lives of people just for increasing their share of wealth in society. Thus, the provision of stringent punishment must be enacted for them.