Potential changes include an easing of import norms for some products such as milk products, chicken meat, fish etc, and incentives for local producers to up production or expand facilities.
These moves come not long after the government moved to open up the country’s retail sector, which some experts said could solve the problems of bringing down retail prices of agricultural products.
While there has been no official confirmation of an active pursuit of any such move by the government, local media reports said last week that government at the highest levels is pursuing a policy to up the production of these items.
The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairy, and Fisheries did not comment before publication time.
However a source at the Ministry of Finance confirmed to FoodNavigator-Asia that a meeting was called last week by the Prime Minister’s Office with his ministry, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the aforementioned department.
He however declined to disclose any details of the meeting or whether officials from any other ministry were present there. He was also unable to confirm whether any concrete steps were taken.
An official at an industry body which has members engaged in the production of one of the said items, told FoodNavigator-Asia that there are signs that the government is likely to announce some measures in this month or next.
“The prices of meat, fish, eggs, milk and fish have just sky-rocketed and the government cannot ignore it anymore. An increase in their production could ease inflationary troubles for the government,” he said.
According to the official, changing dietary habits amongst Indians, particularly in the growing middle class segment has increased consumption of these food items, but the production rate is not able to keep pace with it.
“The demand is just too great, and is growing faster than production. India’s dairy, fisheries and poultry sector is made up of small and micro enterprises that do not have resources to scale up to meet this growing demand,” he explained.
More would needed to be done to bring investment into this sector including “the infusion of government funds into some of the relatively larger state-run enterprises.”
“But do not expect the government to open up the processing’s sectors for these food items to multinationals as it has done with retail [which it has put on hold for the time being]. It would be fiercely contested if they tried that,” he added.
According to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), fish production in India is likely to exceed 12m tonnes by 2015 from the current level of about 9.3m tonnes, of which captured fish accounts for about 65%, while aquaculture accounts for about 30%.
Milk production is likely to reach about 190m tonnes in 2015 from current level of about 123m tonnes, according to ASSOCHAM, while a surging demand for chicken, meat and eggs is putting the Indian poultry sector on the path to being a US$27.2bn industry by 2015.