Mumbai: Cold chain is going to create more jobs as it would need more manpower than technology. Consequently, making it a sunrise sector, explains Ravichandran Purushothaman, President, Danfoss India. He said this at the ‘Cold chain solutions for tomorrow’s India’ forum organised by Free Press Journal-Moneycontrol in Mumbai.
This is going to be sunrise sector for two reasons. First, it will create more jobs than software. Second, India needs to build more pack-houses and reefer houses,” said Purushothaman. At present India has merely 350 pack-houses, but there is a need for about 70,000 pack-house in total.
Adding to it, Pawanexh Kohli, CEO, NCCD said in the future the sector would need more efficient technology like low-cost and green technology and follow fork-to-farm model rather than farm-to-fork model (understand the demand or the market).
Talking about investments into this thriving sector, Kiran Malla, director, Corporate Finance Strategy, EY said, “Cold chain is not a desire but a necessity.” He further added that in last 3-4 years, there has been immense investment interest in the sector. “Investment is waiting to happen.”
Looking ahead, maybe five years from now, the things in the sector might evolve with more pack houses and lot of investments coming in. B Thiagarajan, JMD, Blue Star Limited said, “In the next five years, we will see transformation in the sector.
There will be lot of money that will be made in fruits and vegetables. He also advocated the need to attract more modern multi-brand retail like Walmart which could add to grow and development in the sector.
As a responsibility of industries and association, Purushothaman believes that they should intervene at farm level and help farmers to understand the importance of sorting and grading. Adding tot it, Pankaj Khandelwal, MD, INI Farms stated there is a massive level of discipline needed in fruits and vegetables which is lacking and that is hurting the freshness factor. “We need to find domestic model to make profits. We are making profits when we export,” he added.
Kohli strongly believes for the cold chain to kick start smoothly “there is a need for farmers’ participation in co-operative form.” This co-operative model will be one like dairy model but one developed for agriculture. One such model is 22,000 rural haats that are converted into Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs). Yet another concern for the industry as a whole is the lack of the marketing ability of the farmers which will be critical in such links. As these GrAMs, electronically linked to e-NAM and exempted from regulations of APMCs, will provide farmers the facility to make direct sale to consumers and bulk purchasers.