The food processing and preservation industry have now become more of a necessity than a luxury. It has an important role in the conservation and better utilization of food commodities that grow in the country. In order to utilize the surplus during the season, it is necessary to employ modern methods which extend the storage life for better distribution and also processing techniques to preserve them for utilization in the off-season in both large scale and home scale. Similarly, the level of interest on food and Agro-processing has increased dramatically in recent years.
Food and Agro-processing have been grabbing the attention of the planners and policy makers as it can contribute to the economic development of the country. The utilization of the resources, both materials, and human, is one of the many ways of improving the economic status of the people especially poor and marginally backward groups of the country.
Very little attention has been given to the handling, processing and preservation aspects of agricultural produces. Various studies show that about 40% of the total production of agricultural commodities is unfortunately wasted due to the inadequate facilities for processing and lack of post harvest technology.
Despite such a large production, their processing is yet to be developed properly. The processing includes pre-processing of agricultural commodities before they are fit to be used for final conversion into processed foods. Studies have shown that the agricultural products with high value can effectively compete in the both local and international markets and can, therefore, contribute to the generation of higher income for farmers and disadvantaged groups.
Among the agricultural commodities, fruits and vegetables are considered as perishable commodities and are available during the certain parts of the year in the different regions and wasted in large quantities due to the absence of facilities, proper handling, distribution, marketing, and storage.
Various success stories from the neighboring countries show the improvement of the living status of rural folks by the establishment of small business enterprises thereby resulting in rural development both by socially and economically.
Food and Agro-processing enterprises are the only feasible enterprise in the context of Nepal because food and Agro-processing improve food nutritionally by removing toxic substances, extending shelf-life and making more palatable.
These enterprises have the potential to expand their market size, especially if there are improvements in product quality and attractive packaging. More aggressive market strategies and promotions are also needed. The availability of the good quality raw materials and whether it is cheaper to produce these locally or import them are also important factors to be considered. Some of the potential enterprises based on the local resources of Agro-product particularly crops and horticulture products can be launched for the poverty alleviation in the county as follows:
Food grain based products:
Fortified energy food
Mini rice mill and wheat mill
Rice flakes and beaten rice
Cereal energy soup
Germinated legumes and oilseeds products
Homemade noodles and macaroni
Fruits and vegetables based products:
Pickles and fermented products
Fruit candies and titaura
Varieties of sauces
Jam, jellies, marmalade and varieties of fruits products
Fruit juice and squash
Chips and soup powder
Tomato products-ketchup, sauce, puree
Livestock based products:
Dairy products like paneer, churpi, flavored milk drink, sweets, etc.
Meat and poultry products like sausage, instant momo, and sukuti, etc.
Other technologies of rural development:
Leaf cup manufacturing
Animal and poultry feed
Bee keeping and honey production
Indigenous products like lapsi, bel products, etc.
Herbs and spices
Conclusion and Remarks:
Proper application of food science and technology for processing can help alleviate poverty in the region as a whole. Local resources can be mobilized and steady source of income may be generated through such application. Nepal government has to play a responsible role for activating and coordinating the agriculturist of the country to achieve this goal.
Technology should be available to the farmers of low-income groups in the village of Nepal to create employment opportunity. The status of people can be enhanced by developing small scale, and localized processing and marketing of agricultural products.
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