The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, graced and addressed the 1st convocation of the National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) today (February 10, 2018) at Sonepat, Haryana.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that India has been an agrarian economy ever since our ancestors planted grains in the Indus Valley. Many varieties of nutritious grains and a wide range of pulses mark the Indian experience. So do food habits and recipes that change from state to state, if not district to district. They symbolise the breadth and diversity of India – which is our great strength. At the root of this strength are our farmers. Millions of them, both men and women, toil relentlessly and with great effort to grow food for us. They contribute to not just food security but actually national security. The farmers who perform such a selfless task often do so for limited returns, and face the uncertainty of the monsoon and the market.
The President said that as a society and as a people we are obligated to make life better for our farmers and to free them from the fickleness of nature and of weather patterns – and, to the degree possible, of the unpredictability of demand and supply. This is the resolve of the government, and it has instituted policies and programmes to further this. Use of science and technology along the food chain is essential to these programmes. And this is where institutions such as NIFTEM and those who graduate from here will play a vital role.
The President said that as social habits change and as nuclear families emerge in larger numbers, more so in our cities, demand for packaged and ready-to-eat food products is rising in India. The challenge is to maintain quality, safety and labelling standards for food and ingredients that are up to global bench-marks. It is to make certain that packaged foods promote both convenience and health. And that they keep alive the nutritious grains and traditional food items that can be found in every state of India. It is for the food industry to innovate and find easy-to-use solutions to the epidemic of lifestyle diseases in our country. And we have to do all this while being conscious of building our own brands, especially for traditional and nutritive food items that have been the pride of India for centuries and can reach far greater consumers at home and abroad.
The President said that NIFTEM has emerged in such a social context. Those who graduate from this institute will serve as focal points, linking the farmer to science and technology, to entrepreneurship and to the food processing industry. It is for them to build partnerships among multiple stakeholders – industry, regulators, policymakers, consumers, financial and credit institutions and of course farmers.