Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said the centre will invest Rs 10,000 crore to promote healthy food, organic and other products linked to well-being by forming clusters of producers in states where certain items are unique to them or they have a natural advantage in growing them. For example, kesar in Jammu and Kashmir, makhana in Bihar, turmeric in Telangana and bamboo shoot in the northeast.
Ms Sitharaman's announcement today as part of the centre's Rs 20 lakh crore package amid the coronavirus lockdown follows a "cluster-based plan" that has parallels to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "be vocal for local" approach towards self-sufficiency.
"This (cluster-based approach) is one of the ways to make local value-added products reach global markets," Ms Sitharaman said, adding the final products can be packaged in a world-class manner and marketed.
"Let us say if it is Bihar, makhana is considered to be one of the most nutritious foods without any calorie concerns, therefore one can always have it as a snack. So the cluster in Bihar will aim at makhana cluster. Kashmir would aim at kesar cluster. Karnataka can have ragi and coarse grain, which is considered a healthy alternative to gluten-rich wheat and rice. Northeast will have bamboo shoots and organic fruit. Telangana can have turmeric; we are only suggesting this because turmeric latte is a big thing outside these days... Turmeric is rich in this country, there can be clusters formed. Andhra can do chillies, Tamil Nadu can do tapioca. I am just giving examples," Ms Sitharaman said.
"So the cluster-based approach is going to focus on those organic- or herbal-based or nutritional and wellness related food items in which India has a great strength," the Finance Minister said.
India has 361 products with geographical indication or GI tags, a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
The clusters will likely gain strong ability to capitalise their produce with the massive Rs 10,000 crore investment that the centre has announced.