We say India has great potential. Institutions have great potential. But time has come to convert the potential into performance. In all the sectors we will face this challenge. To start with, let us just take the example of food processing.
The total chain in food processing is very familiar. It starts with farming, fishing, etc. This total chain delivers value to the consumer. Manufacturing, processing, assembling; all these elements of the total chain matter. Performance now means mastery over the entire chain. Let us, for a moment, look at the beginning of the chain, namely primary production. Where does India stand?
We lead in rice production; in wheat, we are number four. But this primary production itself will have to have infusion of new technology in major way. Consider mechanical harvesting – the combined harvesters. We have always talked in India about cheap labour being an advantage. As time goes on, farm labour will become more expensive with growing industrialization. With the advent of multicropping, harvesting will have to be done more quickly. Use of mechanical combined harvesters in the primary production process becomes a must.
India is the largest producer of fruit in the world. But what is our export share? One percent. How much do we process? Two per cent.. How much does Brazil process? Seventy per cent. What is coming in the way? You will find that about ninety percent of the food-processing is in the small-scale sector. Organised fruit processing industry with state-of-the-art manufacturing technology will again be the key to progress.
We are the largest milk-producer in the world. But look at the variety of technological problems. We have one-third of the cattle population in the world – the largest by the way – but, in terms of export of milk products, we have only 0.05 percent share. We get carried away by the large numbers because we are a large country. Eventually it is the productivity, the efficiency all measured on a per capita basis, that is going to count. Technology is going to play a major role in all this.
If India lives upto its potential, it can be the ‘Grannergy’ for the rest of world.