According to an official at the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, the Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET) has been given a US$500,000 grant for setting up a food-testing laboratory.
CIPHET was established in 1989 as a nodal institute to undertake lead researches in the area of the post-harvest engineering and technology appropriate to agricultural production catchment and agro-industries.
The grant has been given under the ministry’s goal of further strengthening the food-testing scenario in India, which has come under criticism from experts of being too lax and slow.
“The laboratory will be equipped with new and highly sophisticated instruments for the testing of different food products, which will serve the interest of food products manufacturers and consumers in the northern region,” he said.
The official said that the laboratory as a food testing hub, the laboratory and would offer services to the farmers, small-scale entrepreneurs, and food industries in only the northern part of India.
Similar sort of laboratories, some which have been set up and some that will be set up in the near future will undertake food testing in other parts of the country, he added.
The official also said that the food testing discipline in India suffers from some obvious challenges that the government is working to overcome. These include the question of talent and also clearances for imported equipment.
“The best talent goes to work for the better paying private sectors and so it is difficult for us to retain them. Mostly, they learn their wings with our institutes before working in the private sector,” he said.
He added that India being such a vast country, with a very large and spread out food processing industry, the time frames for food testing have always been lagging, and only more food labs can solve such a problem.