Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday said the food processing sector is one of the most important sectors which can become a powerful driver of the growth story of the state.

Patnaik said this here after inaugurating the Odisha FoodPro 2022, a unique interface of investors, manufacturers, producers, food processors, startups, policy makers, and organisations from across the Indian food ecosystem.

The food processing sector has tremendous potential towards reducing post-harvest crop loss, value addition and enhancing farmers' income, he said, adding that Odisha is naturally blessed with a vast geographic, climatic and crop diversity and presents a unique opportunity for exploring its potential for an inclusive and exemplary economic growth.

Joining the programme on a virtual platform, Patnaik called upon all to work together in making Odisha a favoured destination for investment in the food processing sector.

The Chief Minister said the event was conceptualised not only to enable the investors to understand the investment environment in the food processing sector in the state but also to provide exposure to the micro and small food processing entrepreneurs to access financing as well as newer skills and technologies.

Announcing that Odisha Food-Pro will be made an annual event, he said that it will be organised by MSME department each year so as to put Odisha on the food processing map of India and the world.

Highlighting the contribution of the SHGs in the transformation of the socioeconomic canvas of Odisha, the CM stated that it will witness further escalation by making them partners in a modern supply chain.

He expressed happiness over the participation of the Women SHGs in this event and hoped that they will engage themselves more in the food processing activities and will prosper further.

The state government is implementing a favourable policy framework through Industrial Policy Resolution 2015, MSME policy 2016 and Odisha Food Processing Policy 2016.

Odisha is also among the leading states in the implementation of the Prime Minister's formalisation of micro food processing enterprises scheme, he added.

State MSME minister Pratap Dev said that it's a first of its kind in Odisha. He outlined the efforts made by his department and growth opportunities in this sector, especially for small investors and entrepreneurs.