The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India to evolve a new national policy on cold chain to provide direction for the long term approach for holistic infrastructure creation for both agriculture and horticulture produce.
Making the aforesaid announcement at a National Conclave on “Strengthening of Farm-to-Consumer Cold-Chain Infrastructure” organised by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi today, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare and Mission Director, MIDH, Dr. Shakil Ahammed said that the proposed policy would be evolved in due course of time in necessary consultations with all concerned stakeholders including the industry.
Dr. Ahammed further added that the Centre has decided to expand the capacities of storage facilities for onion in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Karnataka to ensure minimum wastages on onion in view of its recent production in which farmers had to virtually throw away their produce in the absence of storage facilities in certain pockets of Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Dr. Ahammed informed that capacity expansion for storage facilities in Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Maharashtra would be done to an extent of 38,000 tonnes, 12,000 tonnes, and 68,000 tonnes respectively although, he gave no time limit.
Elaborating on the new National Policy on Cold Chain for agriculture and horticulture produce, Dr. Ahammed indicated that the focus of the government would be productivity and quality of the produce as well as storage so that the farmers do not lose their produce and the consumer gets the best price in the entire supply value chain of the marketing.
Highlighting the gap in the existing infrastructure and demand, Pawanexh Kohli, CEO & Chief Advisor, National Centre for Cold-Chain Development (NCCD) said, “There has been major focus on establishing cold storages over the years while reefer vehicles, pack-houses and ripening chambers have been ignored. As a result, today we need to establish 3.27 million metric tonne capacity of cold storages which is only 10 per cent lesser than the requirement. Despite having one of the largest cold chain infrastructure, we are lacking in providing them connectivity as we have only 9,000 reefer vehicles while we need 61,826 reefer vehicles, a deficit of 85 per cent.”
In addition, Kohli said, “We have only 249 modern pack-houses while we require 70,080 pack-houses, a huge deficit of 99.6 per cent. Similarly, the country has only 812 ripening chambers while there is requirement of 9,131 ripening chambers, a deficit of 91 per cent.”
“Though cold storage is the mother of cold chain but lack of connectivity and other infrastructure is weakening the entire value chain and leading to the wastage of agriculture and horticulture produce. The Government is providing right incentives and low interest funding to the industry to put a balance in the sector. Now, the industry will have to go hand in hand with the Government,” Kohli further added.
During the conference, a survey report ‘Doubling Farmer’s Income by Strengthening India’s Cold Chain – 2016’, jointly conducted by PHD Chamber and NCCD was released.