Visakhapatnam: Post-harvest losses and better returns to farmers is possible only when India upgrades the present cold storage units technically, increase storage capacity and create cold chain facilities.
This was the opinion of experts at a one-day seminar on refrigeration and cold chain technology organised by the Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE) in association with the AP Chambers of Commerce and Industry Federation and the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR), here on Wednesday.
Former president of ISHRAE Arvind Surange, in his key-note address, claimed that the total capacity of the cold storage units in India amounted to 34 million tonnes, which is the largest in the world. .
“Capacity-wise there is no problem, but most of the cold storage units are based on outdated, outmoded technologies, which are energy-inefficient. The technology should be upgraded and made more energy-efficient, and that is a big challenge,” he observed, adding that out of the 7,000 cold storage units in India, about 5,000 were based on outdated technologies.
However, it is not enough to merely create cold storage capacity, but to establish entire cold chain facilities including pack houses, transport facilities, frozen food plants, reefer (refrigerated vans) and all other components. Only then would it be possible to reduce post-harvest losses which amount to over $ 2 billion per annum in the country which was a colossal national waste, he pointed out.
Surange said that multi-product cold storage units based on the latest and most advanced technologies were required in the country. He cited the example of Andhra Pradesh where there are several cold storage units in and around Guntur, but were suitable only for storing chilli. And most of them are based on old technologies he stated.
President of the AP Chambers of Industry and Commerce Federation G Sambsiva Rao said the importance of cold chain could not be overemphasised. Shrimps and fisheries sector contributed to 35 per cent of the State’s GDP because the requisite processing facilities and cold chain was created. Same could be done in the case of vegetables, fruits and other perishables, he felt.
Papers were also presented on most advanced technologies in the field during the seminar.