USSEC Participates in “Make in India” Food Conference
USSEC was recently invited by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry to participate in its “Make in India” food processing conference. “Make in India” is a new, major national program of the Indian government and PHD is one of India’s top commerce and industry chambers, working closely with the Indian government to move their commercial and industrial agenda forward. This program was held in Madhya Pradesh, which is considered the soy bowl of India.
“Make in India” is the agenda of India’s current prime minister with a focus on inviting domestic and international investment in different areas including the food processing sector. The objective is to facilitate and strengthen domestic industry, create employment opportunities, and attract foreign direct investment (FDI).
USSEC suggested that a session on soy could be added to this conference. USSEC Director – India Soy Food Program Ratan Sharma participated as a speaker, delivering a lecture on the potential of soy food processing in India. In his speech, Dr. Sharma elaborated on soy food business opportunities, the role of soy in the food and nutritional security of India, and convinced the audience that soy food processing needs to be organized in India for India as it is most needed for Indians’ own food and feed uses, rather than selling it to other countries.
Dr. Sharma noted that it was encouraging to see two of India’s top food processors telling the panel and SOPA (Soy Oil Processors Association of India) officer that because India is an edible oil deficit country, they should import soybeans from countries where oil is plentiful. The processors explained that the value derived from the domestic market will be much better than the export, especially in the case of soy.
Dr. Sharma had the opportunity to personally meet the food processing minister (minister of state in Modi government). During a long conversation, Dr. Sharma discussed the present soy situation in India and the dependency on exports because soy processing is no longer a lucrative business. He suggested that her ministry could organize the soy processing business in India to meet the country’s own requirement for food and nutritional security and for poultry, aqua and animal utilization purposes. The minister assured Dr. Sharma that she will discuss this matter with the prime minister and will try to work on this issue from her ministry level as well. She covered these soy-related issues in her inaugural speech at the conference and also to the media, saying “capturing more and more value in India is the real meaning of ‘Make in India.’”
“Make in India” was well-covered by print and electronic media throughout the country.
The second “Make in India” food processing event was organized in Delhi by the CII (Confederation of Indian Industries), which is another influential chamber of commerce and industry. The cabinet minister of food processing was the chief guest. In a short meeting with the minister during the conference, Dr. Sharma discussed multiple taxation and the product approval problems which the soy industry is facing. The minister assured him that he will look into the multiple taxation issues in food products, especially with nutritional ingredients such as soy.
Scott Sindelar, FAS Minister-Counselor for Agricultural Affairs in India, gave a speech, mentioning that considering its oil as well as food and nutritional security, India should not depend only on its own produced soybeans but should go for imported alternatives, and he proposed that the U.S. is the best option for this.
The managing director of the SSP Pvt. Ltd. also emphasized the import of soybeans to meet Indian oil and food- and feed-related demands and to generate employment. SSP was one of the major sponsors of this event. During the session with the chief secretary (a senior Government of India (GOI) officer) of the food processing ministry, Dr. Sharma discussed soy-related issues, which the chief secretary discussed and noted.
This event was a strategic effort by USSEC to mobilize GOI resources toward organizing India’s soy food industry. The participation of FAS and its recommendations about the import of U.S. Soy made a great impact on the overall efforts and the future strategies of USSEC in India.