March 27, 2019 COLD CHAIN

Every year, the agricultural sector experiences immense losses due to poor infrastructure, unnecessary intermediaries and price manipulation tactics. The farmers are often at the mercy of moneylenders and middlemen who ultimately make crucial decisions on crops and harvests and also influence market rates.

The Indian farmer has very poor bargaining power in the market because his produce is highly perishable, his investment is high and much depends on the money he is expected to earn from the sale of his produce. In between production and consumption lies a fearsome nadir that most farmers are loathe to cross; most of the produce is lost in transit or rots due to the lack of proper storage facilities.

The need of the hour is a state-of-the-art cold chain, which helps farmers boost their revenue simply by helping them store it till they can sell it for what it’s really worth. This prevents the farmer from selling below his profit margin, and also helps the economy in the long run.

While several states lead in agricultural production, their agricultural logistics, including cold storage facilities aren’t quite up to the mark. This leads to great losses every year. An adequate cold chain would imply a well-connected network of cold storage facilities from state to state, along with the necessary transport and labor facilities required to achieve the task.

An effective cold chain would enable farmers to double their revenue, protect agricultural produce and the rights of farmers, integrate supply chains for agricultural commodities, reduce physical waste in perishable commodities, and reduce the number of intermediaries in the supply chain. It would further organize the Indian horticultural supply chain and streamline the production to consumption process, which is currently fraught with hiccups.

Agricultural officials also agree that proper post-harvest management would undoubtedly lead to an increase in revenue for the government. It would also enable the government to protect farmers, who provide food for the entire community. A well-planned and well-managed cold chain is therefore the need of the day.

Despite considerable subsidies on cold storage facilities being offered by the government, the trend has been slow to pick up, probably because of a lack of awareness about cold storage itself or because of a certain hesitation regarding the novelty of its technology. India’s overall cold storage capacity isn’t very encouraging, and every state’s available cold storage facilities are proportionally lower than their yearly quantum of agricultural produce.

With other states across the world as models, it can be understood that a well-managed cold chain could be immensely profitable for everyone concerned. Such a cold chain would enable an increase in revenue and with it, an improvement in the human condition. It is therefore a vital asset in terms of agricultural logistics.

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