Analysing the Cold storage sector in India

Introduction: Indian economy is an agrarian economy. Even though the Share of agriculture in the GDP is shrinking then also it is considerable and stands at around 14 per cent. It not only forms a major part of GDP but also employs around 60 per cent of population [Economic Survey 2012]. According to World Bank’s report issued in May 2012 around 70 per cent of Indian population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. The development of secondary agriculture creates more employment opportunity in economy and contributes more to the advancement of the economy.
 
Fruits and Vegetable Production Trend: The growth rate of production is much higher than the growth rate of area. It indicates that the production of vegetables is improved mainly with improvement in cultivation practices. It is said that India is still lagging far behind its potentials for agricultural and horticultural crops. With such an increasing trend in production and with same cold storage capacity, it will be difficult to meet the challenge of cold storage requirement if the right step is not taken on time.
 
Table 1: Area and production of Vegetables in India
Year
Area (in '000 Hec)
Growth percentage
Production (in '000 MT)
Production Growth
2007-08
7848
-
128449
-
2008-09
7981
1.695
129077
0.489
2009-10
7985
0.050
133738
3.611
2010-11
8495
6.387
146555
9.584
2011-12
8590
1.118
149600
2.078
Source: ICAR. & Ministry of Agriculture, GOI.

Bansil, 2011 stated, Bihar has 6 percent of the total fruit area in the country with 276900 ha. Although fruits and vegetables occupy just 14 percent of the state’s Gross Cropped Area, they hold an important position in the agricultural economy of Bihar. Together, they contribute more than 50 percent of gross value of agricultural produce.
 
From the above statement one thing is very clear that fruits and vegetables provide a better return than cereals crop. But the production of fruits and vegetables must be backed by better infrastructure and marketing facilities. Bihar is well known with poor marketing and infrastructure facility. Under such condition future does not seems bright if the right step is not taken.
 
At national level the production of potato is increasing at tremendous rate. Even though the area under potato cultivation is limited to less than 2 percent but the growth in production is almost above 50 percent per decade. This is possible mainly due to improvement in production technology. In the year 2013, Nalanda, a district of Bihar has made a world record on productivity of potato. Being a bulk agricultural commodity potato needs lot of space in cold storages.
 
Storage Problems: India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world. For the year 2011-12 the total fruits production in India was 76.42 Million MT and for vegetable was 156.33 Million MT. As per the report 'FDI in Retail - Advantage Farmer 2013’ by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India "Post-harvest losses of farm produce of fruits, vegetables and other perishables, have been estimated to be over ₹ 1 trillion per annum, 57 per cent of which is due to avoidable wastage and the rest due to avoidable costs of storage and commissions". 
 
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Analysis by Economic Affairs and Research Division of FICCI states: India wastes 40 per cent of fruits and vegetables production every year. The major concern is not the figure only but the reasons for wastages. This wastage is mainly on account of lack of proper cold storage facilities. Fruits and vegetables are very perishable in nature and require scientific cold storages rather than go-downs used for storage of grains. Processing of fruits and vegetables not only adds value to the produce but also increases the shelf life of the products.
 
Lack of storage facility especially for fruits and vegetables is not a new issue to Indian agricultural sector. The availability of cold storage facility is not even 50 per cent of the required storage capacity. As per 2012 figures, India needs 61130 thousand MT cold storage capacity, against which only 24298 thousand MT cold storage facility is available. There is a wide gap of more than 50 per cent (36832 thousand MT) storage capacity. In case of Bihar cold storage deficit stood at 3094 Thousand MT (73%). Other than Punjab all states faces the unavailability of adequate storage facility. In case of Bihar, the available capacity is only 1147 thousand MT (2013) against a required capacity of 4241 thousand MT ,that is Bihar has only around 27 per cent of the required capacity.
 
Table 2: Sector wise cold storages in Bihar                                        Note: Capacity in MT
Year
Private Sector
Public Sector
Cooperative Sector
No.
Capacity
No.
Capacity
No.
Capacity
2005
220
833382
18
77200
2006
220
833382
18
77200
2007
234
1233266
18
77200
2008
242
1362429
18
77200
2009
236
1100641
10
46400
Source: ICAR
 
In Bihar most of the cold storages are under private sector. During year 1979-80, 34 cooperative cold storages were started. The number of cooperative cold storage decreased continuously. In the year 2009 the number of co-operative cold storages reduced to 10. At present there are only few co-operative cold storages functioning in Bihar. In case of private sector the number of cold storages is increasing due to several schemes carried out by the Government.
 
Conclusion: To address the problems of food and nutritional insecurity, it is necessary to utilize the available produce to an optimum level. In India, fruits and vegetables are being wasted to a great extent. One of the major reasons of wastages is lack of processing activities. Cold storages are the important infrastructure which facilitates not only in carrying out processing activities but also to reduce the wastages. The production level of fruits and vegetables are increasing to a great extent but increase in cold storage capacity is so low that it is reaching to an alarming level. It is very necessary to create and maintain the capacity so as to benefit the farmers, small processors, consumers and other stake holders. 
 
[The article has been written by Enamul Haque and Anu Peter V. They are presently pursuing their PGDABM from NIAM, Jaipur.]
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Analysing the Cold storage sector in India

by Enamul Haque time to read: 5 min
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