‘India needs smart logistics for farm-to-fork connectivity’

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) With a view to preventing food losses due to lack of integrated cold chains, India needs modern logistics such as pack-houses and refrigerated vehicles to implement farm-to-fork connectivity, a senior government official said on Monday.

“Cold chain development needs to address end-to-end connectivity from farm-gate to consumers. To be future ready, India requires modern and smart logistics to serve as the logistics bridge between source points and markets,” said Siraj Hussain, secretary in the department of agriculture and cooperation.

The existing food distribution suffers food losses on account of shortage of integrated cold chains, Hussain said.

Integrated cold chains enable farmer groups to pro-actively connect to various demand centres and take advantage of the recently launched national agriculture market.

“Establishing modern supply chains for perishable food items not only minimises the food losses, but also empowers the farmers to reach across to more distant markets,” the union ministry of agriculture said in a statement.

Referring to the study “All India Cold-chain Capacity Assessment (Status & Gaps)” released on September 4, Hussain said it was the first such study that directly correlates food consumption with source points, making the evaluation more relevant and market-linked.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also expressed the need to improve market-linked connectivity for agricultural produce.

The study, which took into account the actual per capita consumption of food items, was undertaken by the National Centre for Cold-chain Development along with National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development consultancy service.

It revealed that the gap in India’s cold chains is not as much due to a lack of cold-storage capacity but more to do with various other components necessary to implement farm-to-fork connectivity.

As per the report, India needs about 70,000 pack-houses, each equipped with a pre-cooler and dispatch room for onwards transport link to fulfil current consumption of urban clusters. Currently, the country only has about 250 such pack-houses.

Lack of pack-houses and transport connectivity results in breach in the integrity of cold chains. This also results in most of the cold-storage capacity being used to store only crops like potato, dried chillies, pulses, which do not need onwards cold chain connectivity, the statement said.

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