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agriaffairs

Cold Chain Development Gathers Pace — Sanjeev Chopra

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ccelerated Cold Chain Development to mitigate food inflation was the theme of the fourth Cold Chain Summit, organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), on August 2930 in New Delhi, with support from the Ministries of Agriculture and Food processing Industries. I was present through most of the sessions, and also delivered the Valedictory address. In the inaugural session itself, Union Agriculture Secretary Ashish Bahuguna sounded a note of caution on the optimistic projections of the industry, which felt that with the exemption of perishables from the purview of the APMC Act, there would be a flurry of investments in the cold chain sector, thereby leading to the transformation of the sector on account of several new players moving in with investments and technology. He felt that unless state governments actually saw the benefit of taking out perishables from the ambit of the Act, there was every likelihood of states backtracking on reform. He said one had to take into account several other factors, including technology, power supply, ease of transactions and the existing trade practices as well. In his inaugural address Planning Commission member Dr Saumitra Chaudhri shared the highlights of the report on Cold Chain infrastructure for perishables and High Value Agriculture. He said the problems faced by the sector

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were indeed complex, and were not amenable to a silver bullet as the panacea to all the ills in the sector. The report had acknowledged the fact that intermediaries could not be wished away by legislative intent or administrative fiat. They had to be regarded as ‘economic agents’, and efforts need to be made to convert them from being rent seekers to entrepreneurs. State governments had an important role to play in ensuring a transparent regulatory framework, and institutions like NHB, NHM and MoFPI should play a promotional role. I also chaired a session on the road map for National Centre for Cold Chain Development (NCCD), which had been established in the Horticulture Division of the Union Department of Agriculture &Cooperation (DAC). Participants were quite vocal on the problems faced by the sector: erratic power supply, high interest rates, delays in release of subsidy by NHB, arbitrary rent control orders by state governments, and

AgriBusiness & Food Industry w October 2012

I also chaired a session on the road map for NCCD, which had been established in the Horticulture Division of the Union Department of Agriculture &Cooperation (DAC). Participants were quite vocal on the problems faced by the sector: erratic power supply, high interest rates, delays in release of subsidy by NHB, arbitrary rent control orders by state governments, and sometimes by district administrations, harassment of cold storage owners by all and sundry (cops, labour inspectors, health authorities, and revenue and panchayat officials) sometimes by district administrations, harassment of cold storage owners by all and sundry (cops, labour inspectors, health authorities, and revenue and panchayat officials). The latest in the series was the introduction of service tax on produce stored in the cold storages, which they felt was the last straw on the camel’s back. Cold storage owners felt that this would make it extremely difficult for the ‘rental-model’ cold storages to survive, as farmers were not willing to pay the service tax over and above the rentals, and there was no way in which the burden could be borne by the cold storage owner. However the conference was not just a tale of unending woes! There was much to cheer about. After all, of the total 30 million MT of capacity, nearly half had been created in the last decade itself, and even within these ten years, the last three years had shown a marked increase in the demand for cold stores. More important than the increase in demand was the fact that

AGRI BUSINESS & FOOD INDUSTRY  

India's only monthly magazine having maximum presence in National & International Exhibitions. Regular topics cover the food processing sect...

AGRI BUSINESS & FOOD INDUSTRY  

India's only monthly magazine having maximum presence in National & International Exhibitions. Regular topics cover the food processing sect...

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