Present in the program are my colleagues from Union Cabinet, Shri Piyush Goyal ji, Giriraj Singh ji, Pashupati Paras ji, Purshottam Rupala ji, Prahlad Singh Patel ji, and all the distinguished guests from various countries, ministers from states, colleagues from the business and start-up world, our farmer brothers and sisters from across the country, respected ladies and gentlemen, a warm welcome to all of you at the World Food India Global Conference.
I have come here after watching the technology pavilion here. The arrangements regarding technology pavilion, start-up pavilion, and food streets are marvelous. This fusion of taste and technology will give birth to a new future, providing momentum to a new economy. Food security is one of the major challenges in the changing world of the 21st century. Therefore, this World Food India event has become even more significant.
The processed food industry is being viewed as a sunrise sector today in Bharat. The results obtained from the inaugural World Food India are a significant example of this. There has been an influx of 50,000 crore rupees in this sector in the past nine years. This is a result of the pro-industry and pro-farmer policies of the Indian government. We have initiated the PLI scheme for the food processing sector, providing special assistance to both established industries and new players.
Currently, work is underway on thousands of projects for post-harvest infrastructure under the Agri Infra Fund in Bharat. More than 50,000 crore rupees have been invested in this initiative. Investments worth thousands of crore rupees are also being made to encourage processing infrastructure for fisheries and animal husbandry today.
The investor-friendly policies implemented in Bharat today are propelling the food sector to new heights. The share of processed food in our agricultural exports has increased from 13% to 23% in the past nine years. There has been an impressive growth of nearly 150% in the export of processed food over the last nine years. Currently, we stand at the 7th position globally, having exported agro products worth more than 50,000 million USD. There is hardly any sector related to the food processing industry where Bharat has not achieved an unexpected growth. This presents a golden opportunity for every company and start-up associated with the food sector.
This growth is undeniably appearing both speedy and rapid, but behind it lies our consistent and dedicated hard work. It was during our government's tenure that Bharat formulated its first agri export policy. We established a nationwide logistics and infrastructure network.
Today, there are more than 100 export hubs at the district-level in Bharat, directly connecting districts to the global market. Initially, there were only two mega food parks in the country. Now, this number has surpassed 20. Earlier, our processing capacity was 12 lakh metric tons and it has now exceeded 200 lakh metric tons. That's more than a 15-fold increase in 9 years!
Numerous products are entering foreign markets for the first time, such as black garlic from Himachal Pradesh, dragon fruit or kamalam from Kutch, soya milk powder from Madhya Pradesh, karkichoo apple from Ladakh, cavendish banana from Punjab, gucchi mushroom from Jammu, raw honey from Karnataka, and many more. These products have become favourites in several countries, creating a significantly large market for you worldwide.
Internally, another factor is emerging in Bharat, and I would like to draw your attention to it. Today, urbanization is rapidly increasing in Bharat. The number of people working outside their homes is also growing along with expanding opportunities. This has led to a significant increase in the demand for packaged food, creating unexplored opportunities for our farmers, start-ups, and small entrepreneurs. Therefore, your plans should be as ambitious as these possibilities and policies.
Three key pillars stand out in the growth story of Bharat’s food processing sector: small farmers, small industries, and women! To increase the participation and benefits of small farmers, we have effectively utilized Farmer Produce Organizations (FPOs) as a platform. We are establishing 10,000 new FPOs in Bharat and 7,000 of them are already in operation. This is increasing the reach of farmers to the market and improving the availability of processing facilities. Approximately 2 lakh micro-enterprises are being organized in the food processing sector to enhance the participation of small-scale industries. Initiatives like One District One Product (ODOP) have also provided a new identity to small farmers and small-scale industries.
Today, Bharat is showcasing the path of women-led development to the world. The participation of women in the economy of Bharat is consistently increasing, and the food processing industry is benefiting from it as well. Currently, more than 9 crore women in Bharat are associated with self-help groups. As you all know, leading scientists in the field of food science in Bharat have been women for centuries. The variety and diversity of food we see are the result of the skills and knowledge of Indian women. Many products in the market, such as pickles, papads, chips, and preserves, have been managed by women from their homes.
Leading the food processing industry comes naturally to Indian women. To promote this, women at every level, cottage industries, and self-help groups are being encouraged. In today's program, more than one lakh women who run women self-help groups have been provided with seed capital worth crores of rupees, and I have already deposited it into their accounts using technology. I extend special congratulations and best wishes to these women.
Bharat boasts as much cultural diversity as it does in food diversity. Our food diversity is a dividend for every investor worldwide. The increased curiosity towards Bharat globally is a tremendous opportunity for all of you. The food industry worldwide has much to learn from the food traditions of Bharat.
For centuries, a saying has been a part of life, a part of every family's mindset in our country and that is ‘यथा अन्नम्, तथा मन्नम्’ i.e., as the food we eat, so is our state of mind. In other words, the food we consume not only plays a significant role in our physical health but also has a profound impact on our mental well-being. Bharat’s sustainable food culture is the result of a journey of development spanning thousands of years. Our ancestors integrated food habits with Ayurveda. Ayurveda emphasizes 'Ritbhuk,' meaning eating according to the season, 'Mitbhuk,' meaning a balanced diet, and 'Hitbhuk,' meaning healthy foods. These principles are crucial components of Bharat’s scientific understanding.
The world will benefit from this centuries-old knowledge of Bharat through trade in food and especially spices. Today, as we discuss global food security and express concerns about global health, it has become essential for our food processing industry to explore, understand, and adopt this ancient knowledge of sustainable and healthy food habits.
I give you the example of millets. This year, the world is observing the International Millets Year. We all know that millets are a part of our superfood bucket. We have given it the recognition as "Shree Anna" in Bharat. For centuries, millets, or Shree Anna, had been given a top priority in most civilizations. However, in recent decades, millets went out of practice in food habits in Bharat and many other countries. This had significant repercussions on global health, sustainable farming, and a sustainable economy.
Bharat has taken the lead in creating awareness about millets once again globally. I firmly believe that, just as International Yoga Day brought yoga to every corner of the world, now millets will also reach every corner of the world. Recently, when Bharat hosted the world leaders here during the G20 Summit, they appreciated dishes made from millets.
Today, many major companies in Bharat are launching processed food items made from millets in the market. I urge you all to discuss how to create more opportunities in this direction, how to increase Shree Anna's market share in the food market, and prepare a collective roadmap for the benefit of both the industry and farmers.
You will be discussing several futuristic subjects in this conference. It's important to delve into both industry-specific and broader global interests. For instance, the G20 Group has emphasized sustainable agriculture, food security, and nutrition security in the Delhi Declaration. All the stakeholders in the food processing have a significant role in these matters, and we need to prepare ourselves accordingly.
We provide nutritious food to more than 100 million children, girls, and pregnant women in our country. Now is the time to shift our food distribution programs towards a diversified food basket. Similarly, we must work towards reducing post-harvest losses, introducing better technology in packaging, and addressing the challenge of food wastage for a sustainable lifestyle. Our products should be designed in a way that minimizes wastage.
Technology can play a crucial role in this context. We need to increase the processing of perishable products, which will reduce wastage, benefit farmers, and help control price fluctuations. It's essential to strike a balance between the interests of farmers and consumer satisfaction. I believe that this conference will provide detailed discussions on these topics. The outcomes will lay the foundation for a sustainable and food-secured future worldwide.
Once again, I extend my best wishes to all of you. For those in and around Delhi with an interest in these subjects, whether students of agricultural universities, individuals in the start-up world, or leaders of farmer organizations, I urge you to participate in the three-day festival. Dedicate a few hours to witness how rapidly the world is changing and explore the various ways we can utilize products from our fields and add value. The festival showcases numerous opportunities.
Though my time was limited, witnessing what was available here left a significant impact on me. Therefore, I encourage everyone here to visit each stall, observe the items displayed, and contribute to their advancement and value addition. I also urge people across the country, if they are planning to visit Delhi, to make the most of the three-day event. Take advantage of this grand gathering. With these expectations, I extend my heartfelt wishes to all.
Thank you very much