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18 percent fruit, vegetables wasted: Report
Thursday November 28, 2013 8:19 PM, IANS

Despite the high cost of fruit and vegetables, 18 percent of the country's produce, worth Rs.133 billion, goes waste each year because of lack of proper cold storage facilities, a report released Thursday said.

Though the country has 6,300 cold storages spread over Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal and Gujarat, the report, by Emerson Climate Technologies, indicated that the number is just half of the actual requirement.

"The installed capacity of the cold storage is 30.11 million tonnes, while the actual need is for more than 61 million tonnes. So an investment of more than Rs.550 million is needed by 2015-2016 in this sector," Pradipta Sen, president, Emerson India, said.

"The government of India's initiative to improve cold chain infrastructure and the approval of 51 percent foreign direct investment is a welcome step, but stricter regulation and active participation from the government is needed to improve cold storage infrastructure in the country," Sen said.

The high real estate cost, limited awareness, power deficits, providing the cold storage infrastructure from the point of production to retailers and finally to the end-consumer are some of the challenges in India.

"The cold storages in India are actually warehouses with air conditioners, without any cooling technologies. The need of the hour is to have multi-commodity cold storages with controlled atmosphere, which help in maintaining quality and freshness," Sridar Narayanswami, vice president, Emerson Climate Technologies, said.

Further, of the 25,000 refrigeration trucks available in the country, only 5,000 are being used to transport fruit and vegetables -- the majority are used to transport milk.

"We need another 25,000 trucks to be added immediately to prevent the fruits and vegetables from being wasted," Narayanswami said.

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