Govt may open FDI in retail if kiranas are safe: Sahai

Govt may open FDI in retail if kiranas are safe: Sahai

New Delhi: Hinting that the country may open up its retail industry to more foreign direct investments, government today lashed out at ‘jobless ex-politicians’ for ‘rasing cheap slogans’ saying they were only hurting farmers.

“India may open up its $330 billion retail market after being convinced that kirana stores will not be affected by big retailers," Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahai said here at a function organized by industry chamber FICCI.

He said the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion has engaged an agency for an in depth study on the impact of FDI in food retail on mom and pop stores and its report is expected in March next year.

Sahai, however, allayed fears that big retailers were not going spell doom for small players.

“This myth has to be cleared and there are no reports which says that," he said, adding that opponents of organised retail, which could play a key role in changing the agriculture scenario of country, were ill-informed.

“Some people, particularly ex-politicians without job, are making cheap slogans (against organized retail) without actually realizing that they were hurting the farmers," the minister said.

“Kiranawalas (small retail stores) are everywhere and they are not being harmed at all," he added.

Sahai said the government’s main aim was to provide jobs to the farmers, which could happen in a big way when retailing industry grows in India.

“Contract farming has also become another topic of debate, but the government is clear that if we want to help farmers we need to have farmers in cluster farming," Sahai said, adding that it could happen if only retail sector develops in a big way.

The minister said in the 11th plan the govenrment will provide a provision of Rs10 crore for integrated supply chain, besides mulling over tax incentives for develpoment of other infrastructures such as cold chains.

Also, the government was conducting a feasibility study of setting up mega food parks across the country for linking farmers with retail markets.

“It is tentatively envisaged to support 30 mega food parks spread across the country," Sahai said.