Hyderabad: The state government has expedited the process of setting up 'special food processing zones' on the lines of SEZs (special economic zones) in all districts barring Hyderabad to make agriculture more profitable for farmers.
The state government has received 350 applications in response to Expression of Interest (EOI) called by it for setting up food SEZs. Industries minister K.T. Rama Rao on Wednesday directed the officials to extend the last date for submission of EOI so that more companies could join the process.
Rama Rao chaired a meeting on setting up food SEZs. Agriculture minister Niranjan Reddy, civil supplies minister Gangula Kamalakar, chief secretary Somesh Kumar and senior officials from TS Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (TSIIC) and other departments concerned attended the meeting.
Rama Rao stated that the state Cabinet had recently approved to set up food SEZs on a large scale, which would be based on agriculture produce in a particular area. The industry department had prepared a "Telangana food map" in this regard to help entrepreneurs identify which unit was suitable to set up in a particular district, he said.
The meeting decided that each food SEZ should come up over not less than 225 acres. These zones would have infrastructure like water and power supply, roads, drinking water availability and common effluent plants.
The food processing zones will cater to the needs of farmers who are raising not only paddy but also chillies, turmeric, pulses, edible oils, fruits and vegetables. The facilities at every zone would include processing, storage units and marketing infrastructure.
Rama Rao pointed out that the schemes and projects taken up by the government and completion of several irrigation projects had led to a massive increase in agriculture production in the state.
He pointed out that the agriculture sector had seen tremendous growth across the state including in drought-prone districts like Mahbubnagar. He claimed that Telangana started the second green revolution in the country. In addition, the meat, milk and fisheries sectors had grown at a rapid pace. He said there was a need to strengthen the food processing sector in the state to create demand and marketing facilities for increased agriculture production. For this, food SEZs, and not just processing units, should be set up, he said.
He said though paddy was the main crop in Telangana, the food SEZs would be created while keeping in view the future requirements of new crops like oil palm.