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Food processing should be treated on a par with agriculture

Topics
Coronavirus | Food processing industry | Lockdown

Business Standard Editorial Comment 



Dwindling supplies of processed and convenience foods at a time when their demand has surged in the wake of the extended national is a worrisome issue that needs attention. Though the food-processing industry has been freed from the lockdown, its functioning has been marred by the shortage of labour and packaging material, apart from the glitches in procuring raw inputs and distributing value-added products. Processed items, including instant mixes and ready-to-cook or ready-to-consume products, now account for a sizable share of the food market, especially in the urban areas that have been hit the hardest by the outbreak. This industry employs over 7 million workers, including around 1.5 million women, in normal times. It is now reported to be operating with hardly 20-25 per cent of the workforce. Many agro-processing units are still lying closed while most others are operating at a very low capacity. Limits on the number of labourers who can work simultaneously in a given area to avoid overcrowding and the social distancing, personal hygiene, and other precautionary norms are further constraining the work at the food-processing factories. Lingering disruption in the production line of this industry may worsen the common man’s lockdown-related woes.

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First Published: Thu, April 16 2020. 01:33 IST

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