Mumbai : Like any other sector or industry, data is going to be important for cold chain sector too. Data analytics will be a key for effective management of various resources in the cold chain, said Ravichandran Purushothaman, President, Danfoss India. Other essentials in the cold chain would be multi-commodity storages, energy-efficient equipments, among others.
Speaking to Free Press Journal, Purushothaman said, “Data is out there with companies and government bodies. It is just that we haven’t collated it. Everything is made available.” According to him, the long-term solution for this is to have more and more Farmer Producer Companies (FPOs). As of February 2018, there are about 712 registered FPOs, meanwhile 104 FPOs are under the process of registration. States like Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have the more than 100 FPOs, as per Small Farmers Agri-business Consortium (SFAC), an organisation to support the state governments in the formation FPOs.
Apart from data and various innovation, there is a need to have more technology or method that are energy-efficient that can be used in cold storage, reefer trucks etc; and have a business model like one in diary industry.
India has around 350 pack houses, but India needs around 70,000 pack house as they would connect local market. With a sense of urgency, Purushothaman added, “In next 1-2 years, India would need at least 20,000 pack houses.” It is in these pack houses that grading and sorting takes places which helps in segregating the produce based on its marketable life, quality of the produce etc. The cost of a full-functional pack houses can cost around Rs 4-5 crore. It is vital to have pack houses that support multiple commodities which will allow farmers or anyone to utilise the service throughout the year. Here again, data will be critical to manage the produce accordingly.
Purushothaman pointed that there would be investment largely into multi-commodity storage as most of the existing storages are single crop or crop type storage. He points that the present cold storages are more than 20 years old and thus, there is a need to make them energy-efficient.
Apart from pack houses, India needs reefer trucks too. As per estimates, India would need 50,000-60,000 reefer trucks. This would help in smooth movement of produce and increase the marketable life, Purushothaman stated. Commenting further about cold chain in agriculture, Purushothaman said, “Unlike the dairy sector, in agri produce the much-needed business model is missing. Thus, it (cold chain) is not working.”