Wastage Woes Prompt Food Processing Ministry to Add Cold Storages on Their 100-Day Agenda

Post-harvest agricultural wastage in India currently ranges from 18% to 25% across the supply chain and can be as high as 45% for fruits and vegetables. In a bid to bolster the agricultural sector and reduce such losses, India’s Ministry of Food Processing Industries has unveiled an ambitious plan to reach “every farmer in every village” and establish localized cold storage units as part of its 100-day agenda.

Recently designated Union Minister Chirag Paswan announced the initiative on 19th June, emphasizing the critical role of food processing in enhancing value addition, ensuring food security, and strengthening the supply chain from farm to fork.

“Farmers are growing crops in one state and must go to another for cold storage, resulting in half of perishable items being damaged in transit. Localized cold storage units will naturally benefit farmers by preserving their produce and reducing wastage.”

Chirag Paswan

By setting up cold storage facilities closer to farming regions, the ministry aims to significantly reduce the damage that perishable agri items incur during transit to storage units in other states. To this end, the government’s approach aims for holistic development.

Paswan, while launching the website and mobile app for the third edition of World Food India scheduled in September, underscored the sector’s potential, while agreeing that not even 10% of it has been realized. “Both international and local markets have immense possibilities for our food processing sector,” he noted.

Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, Ravneet Singh Bittu, also highlighted the significant economic impact and employment opportunities within the food processing sector. According to Bittu, exports of processed foods have seen substantial growth, from 13.7% in FY15 to 25.6% in FY23. This growth is supported by considerable foreign direct investment, which totaled around USD 6 billion during the same period.

By focusing on the reduction of post-harvest losses and enhancing food processing infrastructure, the initiative aims to provide significant benefits to farmers, ensure food security, and strengthen the supply chain from farm to fork. The successful implementation of localized cold storage units will play a pivotal role in achieving these goals, ensuring that farmers’ produce is preserved, wastage is minimized, and value addition is maximized.

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