“The Food Processing sector offers excellent opportunities for career progression. With relevant work experience and continued education, individuals can move up to senior management positions, research roles, or even establish their own businesses,” says Dr. Preeti Dixit, Assistant Professor, PSSCIVE, Bhopal.
To learn more about the Food Processing Industry in India, scope for skilling and training, NEP 2020 and the importance of vocational courses, introducing courses at school level, entrepreneurial opportunities, and more, we spoke with Dr. Preeti Dixit, Assistant Professor, PSSCIVE, Bhopal.
Below are a few excerpts from our conversation. You can watch the full conversation on our YouTube channel.
Q. What is the scope of Food processing industry and composition of the Indian Food Processing Industry?
A: Recognized as a sunrise sector by the Government of India, the food processing industry is a powerhouse of opportunities.
India leads globally in milk, spices, and pulses production, ranking second in fruits, vegetables, wheat, tea, and sugarcane. Contributing significantly, it holds an 18.3% share of the GVA in the Agriculture and Allied Sector and employs 12.22% of the workforce. In 2022-23, it exported agricultural and processed food products worth $51 billion. With a focus on becoming the global hub for millets, known as ‘Shree Anna,’ India’s food processing industry is poised for further growth. Expected to reach $535 billion by 2025-26, it has emerged as one of the largest in the world.
There are 11 major sub segments in the Indian food processing industry:
- Dairy Products
- Fruits and Vegetables processing
- Grains and Oilseeds
- Bread and Bakery products
- Fish and Seafood processing
- Meat and Poultry processing
- Beverages (Tea and Coffee)
- Convenience food i.e., Ready-to-eat & Ready-to-cook products
- Soya processing, and
- Spices processing
- Cold Chain (including logistics)
Q. What are the various jobs available in food processing industry at different levels?
A. The food processing industry offers diverse entry-level positions like Technician, Operator, and Packer, providing a crucial start for newcomers with basic laboratory skills and knowledge of quality control. Middle-level roles include Production Specialist and Entrepreneur (e.g., Craft Baker, Chocolate Maker), requiring specialized expertise at NSQF levels 4 and 5. Advanced positions like Food Technologists and Production Managers exist at NSQF levels 5, 6, and 7. Moreover, the industry supports rural entrepreneurship, enabling individuals to establish small-scale agro-processing units. This empowers rural residents to contribute to economic development, engage in agricultural value addition, and connect local produce to broader markets.
Q. What are the benefits of integrating food processing into school curricula, especially for boards like CBSE and NCERT?
A. Integration of food processing into school curricula should be promoted with educational boards, NCERT and CBSE being key educational bodies, can play a pivotal role in shaping this initiative. The NEP 2020’s emphasis on vocational education and experiential learning provides a perfect platform for integrating food processing skills. Schools can introduce age-appropriate modules on topics like food safety, basic processing techniques, and entrepreneurship.
- Integration develops understanding of food processing concepts, techniques, safety, nutrition, and sustainable agriculture.
- Students gain hands-on training in processing various food commodities, ensuring hygiene, and managing food wastage, fostering early-stage skill development.
- The initiative cultivates a culture of entrepreneurship, sparking curiosity and identifying potential career interests among students.
- The program creates a dynamic talent pool, positioning nations at the forefront of technological advancements in the food processing industry.
This initiative extends learning beyond classrooms with practical sessions, industry visits, internships, virtual labs, and project-based learning. It ensures a holistic approach, allowing students to apply theoretical concepts in real-world scenarios. It also creates opportunities for internships and apprenticeships, bridging the gap between education and the workforce.
Q. What challenges do you foresee, and how can educational boards, schools, and the industry collaborate to overcome these challenges?
A. Implementing food processing in schools may face challenges such as the need for specialized teachers, access to resources, and alignment with existing curricula. The key solution is collaboration. Educational boards can work with industry experts for curriculum design, schools can invest in resources, and the industry can offer mentorship. Joint efforts can overcome these challenges. NCERT and CBSE are introducing vocational roles like Jam Jelly Ketchup Processing Technician. FICSI collaborates with industries, mapping sector skills and offering 62 qualifications aligned with the National Skill Qualification Framework, approved by NCVET.
To know more about the government initiatives, skill development trends and job opportunities in the Food Processing sector, please read – https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/indias-food-processing-industry-government-initiatives-skill-development-trends-and-more/
Q. How is food processing closely linked with Agriculture, Technology, Retail, Hospitality and other industry sectors?
A. The food processing industry and agriculture are interconnected, with the industry heavily relying on a stable and diverse source of raw materials supplied by the agricultural sector. By processing and preserving agricultural produce, the industry not only adds value to the raw materials but also ensures a steady supply chain for both sectors.
Technology, including automation and advanced packaging, boosts efficiency and sustainability. Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and IoT provide real-time data, driving innovation and sustainability in food processing.
Retail and hospitality directly benefit from the food processing industry. Processed and packaged foods, filling supermarket shelves, contribute to the convenience factor in the retail sector. The interplay between food processing and the health industry is pivotal for public health. The health industry relies on processed foods for specialized dietary options, highlighting the need for responsible practices in managing their intricate relationship with public health.
Q. What are the different training programs offered in food processing sector?
A. Training programs in the food processing sector include:
- Govt. Led Initiatives: Programs like PMKVY and Jan Shikshan Sansthaan focus on specific populations, supporting skill development for farmers, entrepreneurs, and women.
- Vocational Training: Industrial Training Institutes (ITI’s) and polytechnics offer hands-on training in technology, preservation, and quality assurance for food processing.
- Entrepreneurship Development Programs: Offered by institutions like National Institute of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises and Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology, these programs equip individuals for starting and managing food-related businesses.
- Certification Programs: FICSI provides specialized certifications in food safety standards, quality management systems, and processing techniques.
- University and College Courses: UGC recognized universities, ICAR Universities, and institutions like Central Food Technological Research Institute offer degree and diploma programs in food science and technology with practical components and internships.
- Online Training Modules: Platforms like FICSI, IGNOU, SWAYAM, and DEEKSHA offer flexible online courses covering various aspects of food processing, from basic principles to advanced technologies.
Q. How important is Training of Trainers (ToT) in maintaining industry standards?
A. Training programs bridge the gap between education and industry requirements. ToT ensures that trainers are equipped with the latest industry practices, maintaining a high standard of skill development. These programs cover a range of areas, from food safety regulations to technological advancements. To ensure the quality and consistency of training, Training of Trainers (ToT) becomes crucial. It ensures that educators are well-versed in industry standards and can effectively impart knowledge to the next generation of professionals. PSSCIVE, Bhopal is providing training to vocational teachers engaged in school education. FICSI also has over 210 accredited training centres across India.
Q. How has the ‘Year of Millets’ contributed to creating awareness about these opportunities, connecting farmers to consumers?
A. The “International Year of Millets (IYM)” in 2023 was definitely a positive step towards creating awareness about the opportunities surrounding millets and connecting farmers to consumers.
2023 put millets in the international spotlight, with campaigns and initiatives led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and various governments, particularly India. This resulted in significant media coverage and public discussions about the benefits of millets. It not only brought millets to the forefront of consumer awareness but also opened up avenues for farmers. With the increased demand for millet-based products, there’s a surge in opportunities across the entire value chain, from farming to processing and marketing. This has been a catalyst in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.
Q. What specific strategies can be implemented to empower women through the food processing sector?
A. Women play a crucial role in the food processing industry, breaking barriers from managing processing units to leading quality control. Initiatives focus on tailored training, promoting inclusivity. Some of the key steps include providing access to skill development, supporting women entrepreneurship, and creating safe work environments. On-site childcare, flexible hours, and remote work options enhance accessibility. Establishing processing units in rural areas, utilizing local produce, and promoting self-employment empower women in these communities. Sustainable practices align with community values, enhancing market appeal. Effectively harnessed, the food processing sector becomes a tool for women’s empowerment and community development.
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