Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said the measure would improve supply chains and would give Indian farmers new customers. At present, he said, 30 percent to 40 percent of fruits and vegetables grown in the country rot in the field because of a lack of proper procurement and cold storage facilities, causing an annual loss of nearly 500 billion rupees ($9.2 billion).
However, opposition parties said the new policy will crush small retailers not able to withstand the competition from the global giants.
India will become a country of sales girls and boys where shops run by American and British companies will sell mostly Chinese goods, warned Arun Jaitley, a top opposition BJP leader.
Associated Press writer Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.
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