Accepted Paper:

Understanding processing: Mega Food Parks and technological interactions in the Indian food system  


Barkha Kagliwal (Cornell University)

Paper short abstract:

One solution for food wastage in India could be processing, I ask how are processing technologies shaping the food system? Using the case of Mega Food Parks, I illuminate interactions between food processing technologies, infrastructures and national policy design in changing the agri-food sector.

Paper long abstract:

Food wastage due to a lack of storage and adequate distribution channels has inhibited food security in India. The government has responded to this problem by financing 41 'Mega Food Parks' (MFPs) as infrastructural hubs to incentivize food processing for both domestic circulation and export. Government visions conceive MFPs will become a modern technological solution for prolonging the shelf life of foods. Yet research on food quality indicates that processed foods cause health issues. Through 20 interviews and 4 factory visits with producers and MFPs on the corporate side; and regulators and policymakers on the government side, I study the interactions between technology and social order in the processed food sector.

Drawing on research in STS on food infrastructures and standards I ask: what is the role of processing technologies in changing the Indian food system and its relationship to global agri-food markets? How does technology make food valuable in the agri-food sector? In critically examining the policy move toward MFPs I illuminate how specific interests begin to shape technological uptake. I contribute to STS by examining the unique technological combinations that emerge due to the specific infrastructural form and make-up of MFPs. I bring a Global South perspective on processing technologies by analyzing the international flows of equipment, foods and standards as they shape the quality of food consumed in both domestic and international settings.

Panel C28
Meetings over and around food