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India, France plan pact to boost food processing

New Delhi, Oct 7 (Calcutta Tube) French President Nicolas Sarkozy‘s visit to India in December this year will see the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two countries to boost the food processing sector.

‘The issue of food is very important and we want to double the exchange of food products (between the two countries) within a very short time,’ French Minister for Agriculture Bruno Le Maire, who is currently on a visit to India, told reporters here Thursday.

‘We are working on the modalities of an MoU to be signed during the visit of President Sarkozy to India in December,’ he added.

The French minister’s remarks came after delegation-level talks between a delegation led by him and an Indian delegation led by Minister for Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahai. The foreign delegation included representatives of French industries.

Maire said the issue of scientific and technical cooperation in the food processing sector was also discussed in detail.

‘France can help India in building cold chains, supply chains and invest in infrastructure in the food processing sector,’ he said.

‘We also want direct investments by French firms in India.’ he said.

Giving out figures, Maire said that as of now France imports around 300 million euros worth of Indian food products annually while only 30 million euros worth of French food products find their way to the Indian market.

‘This is not right. We will work to double this in less than a year’s time,’ he said.

According to the minister, when France will take over the chair of the G-20 later this year, it will bring the issue of world food prices to the table.

‘We will bring up the agenda of bringing stability to world food prices when we take up the chairmanship of the G-20,’ Maire said.

‘Today’s discussions were not just discussions. We had concrete outcomes,’ he said.

Sahai said that both India and France were trying to double bilateral trade from $6 billion to $12 billion and the food processing sector would play a vital role in this.

‘There are around 600 French companies in India but not enough in the food processing sector,’ he said.

‘France is a leader in the processed food market. Their expertise and investments will greatly help boost the Indian food processing sector which has immense potential,’ he said.

Stating that the two sides discussed cooperation in the areas of skill upgradation, supply chain management and investment in infrastructure, Sahai said: ‘This will help enhance food security, post-harvest management and food processing.’

This is the second such meeting between the two ministers this year. Earlier this year, Sahai had met Maire during a visit to France and it was then that the initiative on cooperation in the food processing sector was launched.

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