In a bid to ensure the safety of food from farm to fork, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is working on a plan (called Farm to Trade – Bridging the food standards) to ensure that safe food produce is picked by large bulk buyers from mandis who deal with processing companies.
FSSAI has compiled a list of such companies and called on them to ensure cleaning, sorting and grading of such raw produce at the mandis. The ministry of agriculture and cooperation and National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) were in talks for the same recently.
Besides, the apex food regulator consulted the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) on the subject.
The issue come to the fore when a large section of the traders demanded a review into the definition of food business operator (FBO), citing their limitation in trading such commodities, raw or processed, provided by others.
Pawan Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI, stated the apex regulator has been engaging such agencies like FCI, NCDEX and NAFED for the purpose.
He said, “Traders don’t want to come under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. There are demands from many quarters like retail. Their concern is genuine, but there will not be any change in the existing definition of FBO. However, the regulator could look into resolving their concerns.”
“We are trying to get a solution to this situation. We had talks with NCDEX and a meeting with the ministry of agriculture, marketing and cooperation also took place recently about whether there be a cleaning, grading and sorting scheme for raw produce at mandis?,” Agarwal added.
“We are figuring out what should be done, because there were many such schemes which didn’t get traction amongst farmers in the past. We’re also looking into how to incentivise the farmers under the scheme. This will be the major focus of the scheme,” he said.
The idea is to bring the bulk buyers on board and through them educate the farmers to adopt the best agriculture practices, including post-harvest management of cleaning, sorting and grading of the raw produce.
“I think alignment is what is needed. A lot of awareness and public education is involved in the whole process,” he added.