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France seeks long term relationship with India's food sector
Our Bureau
Date of posting: 13-10-10
      France's Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr Bruno Le Maire, on his recent visit to India stressed on having a long term commitment in the Indian Agriculture and Food processing sector, thus doubling the trade between the two countries from US $ 6 billion to US $ 12 billion.

      The French Minister was speaking at a session organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and the Ministry of Food Processing Industries that was attended by Mr Subodh Kant Sahai, Minister of Food Processing Industries, Government of India, besides a number of members from the Indian and French business fraternity. Mr Sahai emphasized that the food habits of Indians today are changing, offering immense opportunities for the French Food companies to come and invest in India. French expertise could be of help in cold chain development, supply chain management, skill, research and development, and infrastructure development, he added. He further said that the dialogue between the two countries will be continued, and there is a possibility of signing an MoU during the French President's visit to India in December.

      On the Indian side itself, there are some problems which would have to be addressed, as was explained by Mr Claude Bertrand, Chief Executive Officer, Bongrain India. He stated that there is a need to address the key practical problems faced by international operators in India like issues in transportation due to poor cold chain infrastructure, lack of technically skilled man power, and inadequate retail support. However he congratulated the Indian government on steps taken harmonizing the food laws in the country and stated that this would be a key element in growth of food processing sector in days to come.

       Speaking at the session was also Mr Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Chairman, CII National Council on Agriculture and Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Bharti Enterprises Limited. He said that India today seeks greater cooperation with France to address new and upcoming challenges and opportunities of the modern day agriculture in India. He reemphasized that the idea of “Indo-French Center of Excellence in food processing” which was proposed during the Paris visit of Minister Subodh Kant Sahai would be an excellent initiative to strengthen the technological and scientific collaboration between the two countries.

      The next round of common discussions is expected to ake place in December, when the President of France will be visiting India.

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