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  • Q. What is the mission of NCCD?

    A. The National Task Force on Cold Chain set up by the Government was discharged in 2010. It recommended that a nodal agency to be established to coordinate efforts for integrated development of cold chains. The Ministry of Agriculture took the initiative to establish the National Centre for Cold Chain Development (NCCD) in 2011. The mission is to serve as a guiding think tank to develop appropriate policies, conduct knowledge dissemination activities and recommend appropriate technical guidelines for developers. NCCD takes this mission ardently and strives further to make India’s cold-chain future ready and environmentally friendly. The cold-chain we address focuses on perishable agriculture and horticulture produce but includes synergy with perishable products from allied sectors. The driving objectives of the centre are to bring the right technology and right efficiencies that will take our cold-chain from storage only models towards a supply chain approach, with market linked logistics.
  • Q. In India, cold chain and cold storages are often taken as one and the same thing. Can you help us understand the concept of cold chain industry in India?

    A. Often people relate the cold-chain to merely storing of food under temperature controlled conditions. Instead, we must understand cold-chain is a supply chain facilitator. Cold-chains must be viewed as an empowering link, a technology applied across a series of logistical activities, that serve as bridges between markets and our farmers.Cold-stores are only one component of the entire bridge.Warehousing alone must not be confused with cold chain solutions. Fresh produce by nature is highly perishable as natural instinct living physiological activities continue unabated and the cold chain for this segment serves not to stop this life cycle but slow it down. The cold-chain is mainly employed to affect increase in longevity of the produce and minimize losses. Such enhanced life span is not to be wasted under storage conditions, but the time gained should be used to cover distances to buying markets.Static storage only delays a transaction, and on exiting the cold store the goods will still inevitably perish. Hence the time bought, in the cold-chain, is best applied to run for a sale, go where the market is ready to buy today while there is still a gain to be made, rather than wait for time to waste at one location.
  • Q. What are the key challenges being faced by farmers, when it comes to marketing their produce in India?

    A. Marketing is the biggest challenge for farmers in India. Farmers often sell their produce to the closest buyer in distress – this is because they do not have the opportunity to counter the perishable nature of their harvest. If they choose to store in a cold warehouse, they still have to sell to the same local buyer, who is closest to them. This results in low income for them as they don’t have the infrastructure that empowers them to reach out to consumers. Once provided the right infrastructure and right market, situation will be different. For the large majority of our fresh produce, farmers need to have access to farm-gate packhouses, precoolers, reefer transport and then cold stores. The cold stores only serve as a logistics platform for onwards distribution and will normally be close to consumers. For example, building railway platforms is not sufficient, we also build rails and the coaches and the locomotives for it all to be gainfully used. According to Central Institute of Post Harvest Engineering & Technology (CIPHET), there is an estimated loss worth Rs 44,000 cr as fruits and vegetables perish even before they have reached the markets.
  • Q. What is a pack house and how prevalent is the concept of pack-houses in India?

    A. Pack houses are the point of origin in any fruit and vegetable cold chain. Over the years, we have created massive storage facilities – we have 31 million tonnes of cold storage capacity in India. However, pack houses, which are the vital facilities before the produce get into cold storage, are missing and we immediately need to fill this gap. Pack-house is a nerve centre of entire perishable supply chain. At present, because of lack of modern pack houses, our own produce cannot enter the cold-chain and the cold stores are mostly servicing imported fruits and vegetables. See, to start a journey you have to prepare and pack for that trip. The pack-house prepares and preconditions the fruits and vegetables for the trip to market. Without them, the trip causes damage and wastage. In my opinion, we need 30,000 more pack-houses in India which still means on average one between 20 villages.In pack-houses, selection and special care is applied on the produce after the harvest and this helps preserve the quality, texture and essence, including the nutritive value over a predetermined period. At first, rural India needs to maximise uptake into pack-house, then it needs the connectivity in terms of reefer transport, and finally cold store
  • Q. NCCD has recently launched the RVC. What is the outcome of this? Will the RVC really help to smoothen the transportation of perishable goods?

    A. The RVC or Reefer Vehicle Call-in-centre was devised by NCCD so as to open an easy mode for refrigerated transporters to provide on road bottlenecks. Armed with such information, we would be able to plan and implement relevant actions to alleviate such concerns. To execute the RVC, we took the services of Mahindra Logistics.Till now more than 220 calls have been received. Of these, 90% of enquiries were related to queries about kind of seeds and fertilisers and we direct them to the concerned departments. We expect more calls relevant to the prime motive of recording complaints related to cold-chain. Of those that we have received till date, some related complaints of highway harassment allegedly for extortion, some were delays due to incorrect documentation by shipper and a few were about delays at tolls. We need sufficient participation from transporters so as to narrow down on specific regions or areas where a redressing mechanism can be directed. It is still early, and like all e-governance interventions, a lot depends on healthy and active participation. Through you, I reach out to all refrigerated vehicles to provide us feedback, so that appropriate action can be taken. The number is 1800-267-2663
  • Q. How the government is extending support to promote the concept of cold-chain in India? Is there any specific scheme in this direction?

    A. The govt has launched the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), which will infuse nearly Rs 17000 crores in all aspects of horticulture, from production to market, in the 12th plan period. This is likely the largest intervention in the world focused on integrated development of horticulture.Our farmers last year produced 270 million tons of horticulture produce. Yet, lack of effective market links restricts them from reaching their full potential. Hence, the major thrust area for this mission is post-harvest management infrastructure, having allocated the largest share, 25% of its budget to develop market linked supply system. Post-production logistics to markets is key to any factory and it is similar in the case in agriculture, with post-harvest logistics being critical to value realisation. In case of horticulture, cold-chain is the agent that empowers farmers-producers by providing them options to reach far away markets while maintaining saleable quality.
  • Q. Please elaborate on MIDH.

    A. Under MIDH, all components that make a cold-chain are supported. This ranges from farm-level packhouses with precoolers and staging rooms, to reefer transport, cold stores, ripening chambers, etc. Even solar and alternate power solutions, modern street vending carts and retail cabinets, special energy efficient technologies and multi-modal containers are promoted. This support is in form of credit linked subsidies so that the project promoter has a reduced credit burden. Furthermore, there are fiscal and tax benefits also provided by the GoI for cold-chain creation, including 100% FDI through open route.Part of cold-chain is the food processing factory since it extracts value from what would otherwise be wasted. If a fresh produce lot will not survive the long trip to market, because it was harvested late or has different quality parameters, instead of rejecting it, the lot can be processed using additives or other treatments. Such units optimise on the total value from harvest and these are also promoted by Ministry of Food Processing Industries with provision of a substantial grant-in-aid. In certain hilly states, MIDH is also supporting the development of food processing units. Another scheme is provided through APEDA
  • Q. How poor supply chains are impacting the production and how much losses it is incurring to India?

    A. Our logistics chain is not really poor if you consider the way imports have grown in the last decade. For example in case of apples, in the start of this century India used to import only 20,000 tonnes of apples which in about a decade has grown almost 12 times to 2,50,000 tonnes in 2014. So, the logistics platforms we built have helped the produce that were already conditioned and in the cold-chain. But our own produce did not find an entry point into the cold-chain. This is why we speak of lack of pack-house. How is it possible that we are buying foreign fruits at the same rate as our homegrown ones? Besides incurring our domestic logistics costs, they have the added cost of cross oceanic travel and the input costs in the country of origin. According to me the answer lies in the dichotomy between abundance of cold storage and severe lack of pack houses. We were right in developing cold stores for certain product types like potatoes and spices which can benefit from storage periods of months and months. But we need supply chains or logistics conduits to flow the bulk of other produce which is more sensitive and can gain from a life extension of only a few days or weeks at the most.
  • Q. How will cold chains help farmers?

    A. Our farmers have always proven themselves to be excellent in rising to meet demand. They often suggest that they do not need to be taught how to produce more but need to know where to sell more! Having logistics connectivity though cold chains will connect our farmers with markets, extend their reach across limitations of perishability and empower them to produce better and larger quantities. Our farmers can feed the world if we can connect them to the consumers.
By Neha Gandhi

Policies are responsible for poverty of farmers, India: Anil Ghanwat

27 Aug 2020

Mr Anil Ghanwat
President, Shetkari Sanghatana

Name : Mr Anil Ghanwat

Designation : President, Shetkari Sanghatana

Name : Dr Bindu R. Pillai

Designation : Acting Director and Head, Aquaculture Production and Environment Division, ICAR-Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture

Name : Dr O.P. Yadav

Designation : Director, ICAR-Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur

Name : Ravishankar C.N.

Designation : Director, Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (ICAR-CIFT)

Name : Shubh Swain

Designation : Asst Director, Tata Cornell Institute, TARINA



30 Sep 2023

Remembering Dr. M.S. Swaminathan: An Agrarian Visionary

Dr. M.S. Swaminathan: A Legendary Advocate for Farmers and Agricultural Innovation, His Legacy Inspires a Sustainable Future for India.