Agro-Food Processing: Technology Vision 2020 - Executive Summary:Milk:Cereals:Fruits & Vegetables

1. Cereals

The cereals sector occupies a very important place in the Indian economy. The value of cereals output accounted for a little over 41 per cent of the value of production of all crops.
Households spent around 49 per cent of their total consumption expenditure on cereals accounted for about 15 per cent in 1993/94. production of cereals in the country has increased quite rapidly from 69 million tonnes in 1960/61 to 177 million tonnes in 1994/95 as a result of significant incre4ase in yield levels brought about the green revolution.
The production of rice and wheat particularly has registered an annual average growth of more than 3.5 per cent between 1980/81 and 1994/95, which is much higher than the observed rate of growth in population of 2.1 percent during 1981-1991.
The rapid growth in cereals production has enabled our country to achieves self-sufficiency in food requirements. In fact, India ha now emerged as an exporter of cereals in the world market.

The present study has concentrated on four important cereals, viz., rice, wheat, maize and sorghum. The following table shows India’s share in world production of these cereals.

Table 1.1 Cereals Production: India and World.

Cereal Year Production (Million Tonnes) India's share (per cent)
India World
Rice 1993/94 78 540 14
Wheat 1993/94 58 550 11
Maize 1993/94 10 526 2
Sorghum 1992/93 13 70 19

India exported nearly 0.8 million tonnes of rice in 1993/94 which is around 5 per cent of the total world exports of 15 million tonnes.
India exports mainly basmati rice. About 5.14 lakh tonnes of basmati rice were exported in 1993/94 while white rice exports were of the order of 2.54 lakh tonnes. The county has the potential to achieve rapid growth in rice export.
This is evident from the fact that the buffer stocks of rice was as high as 17.4 million tonnes in January 1995 as compared to the actual minimum stock requirements of 7.7 million tonnes.
The prospects of increasing rice exports can, however, be improved only by adopting better storage, processing and grading facilities. Modernization of storage and processing facilities in respect of rice as well as other cereals would help in reducing storage and processing losses on the one hand and making more efficient use of by products.
It is estimated that nearly 70 per cent of the cereals production is stored and consumed by the producers and the rural population. The remaining 30 per cent, which constitutes the marketable surplus, is stored by traders and other procurement agencies like the Food Corporation of India.
The storage losses are quite high (estimates vary from 0.5 to 10 per cent by weight) because of the nature of packing and in efficient handling. Much of the storage and transportation losses could be reduced through improves, modern storage facilities and bulk transportation of grains.

Current Status: Processing

Cereal processing sector consists of two segments, viz. the unorganized and the organized sectors. It is estimated that there were about 136,247 rice mills in India, but of this 66 percent was mainly huller and only 25 per cent was modern rime mills, however, in terms of total milling capacity, the huller accounted for only 36 per cent while the modern mills had a share of 55 per cent.
The hullers were employment intensive, but they were also energy intensive and had a very poor recovery rate as compared to the shellers and modern mills as shown in the table below:

Table 1.2 Characteristics of Rice Milling

(Per Metric Tonne)

Type Average No. of persons employed Average HP used (percent) Rice recovery (percent) Broken rice
Huller 12 40 62-65 40-45
Sheller 10 30 65-70 10-12
Modern mills 6 20 70-72 2-5

Although hullers are less efficient than shellers and modern mills, their importance lies in the fact that they can be used for custom million of small quantities.
Hence they are indispensable I the current socio-economic context where subsistence farming is predominant. Efforts have been made to develop an efficient substitute for hullers and a single unit compact mill (mini-mill) will be capacity ranging from 300 to 1000 kg per hour had been designed.
These mills have not succeeded because of the high initial costs and also maintenance costs.

While modernization of rice milling does not obviously offer much scope for generation of additional employment, it has great potential for reducing the recovery losses ad for improving the utilization of byproducts of rice milling.
It is estimated that there is a potential of producing about 5 million tonnes of rice bran which can yield upto 7 to 7.5 lakh tonnes of bran oil. However, only 4.5 lakh tonnes of oil is extracted.
The available potential for collection and processing rice bran has not been fully exploited on account of the use of hullers wherein bran is not recovered separately and the quality of bran obtained is also poor.
Modernization or rice mills even on a limited scale would provide enormous opportunities for utilizing by products more efficiently. However, modernization has been constrained not merely by the investment cost, but also by the procurement policies of the Government which constrain the mills in achieving economies of scale.
These policies need to be modified suitably to facilitate modernization.

The position with regard to storage, processing, recovery ad transportation losses as well as utilization of byproducts in respect to wheat, maize and sorghum is more or less the same as in the case of rice.
With a view to understand the current status of technology and analyze the issues connected with modernization of cereal processing activities, we have carried out a survey involving interaction with the relevant technological experts, processors and others.
On the basis of the analysis, we have formulated certain recommendations for policy action in the short, medium and long-term in the cereal processing sector. This action plan along wit the names of the nodal agencies is give in Appendix I.