moment he powers off in this fashion, it adversely affects the cooling of produce inside the vehicle. So the point is: even in reefer transportation sector, you require trained and aware drivers. We, in fact, require trained personnel in large numbers all across the cold value chain. We are in all likelyhood to have FDI in multi-brand retail. The demand for the trained manpower in horticulture business could grow manifold. It is very interesting to note that in our engineering colleges, referigeration is not a separate wing. Perhaps, except for IIT, Chennai no other institution runs a course in referigeration. We are looking at creation of nearly 300 lakh metric tonnes capacity in next few years over and above the existing 290 lakh metric tonnes capacity. But without trained personnel, this story would not move forward coherently in qualitative sense. NCCD has just started its journey and you explained the challenges. Just tell me, how mammoth is the task? It’s a huge task. First task, of course, is to map all existing cold chain assets, including storages. We have no idea of the precise volumumetric capacity of these units in the country and more importantly how many of them are actually functional? There is a rough data available of 2010 on availability of cold storages in India, but we are not very sure how many of them are actually up and running in the real sense of the term. Recently, I had some interaction with Potato Cold Storage Owners Association from Agra and they told us that many units have turned NPAs and banks are after their lives and, therefore, the government should provide some relief. If this is the situation in Agra, then the same situation could be in Bihar which is having power problems and there could be many other parts in the country where cold storages are in trouble and increasingly becoming non-fucntional because of various reasons. So this is the first task for us – to map the cold storage network in the country. National Horticulture Board LOGISTICS TIMES November 2012
First task, of course, is to map all existing cold chain assets, including storages. We have no idea of the precise volumumetric capacity of these units in the country and more importantly how many of them are actually functional?
has already undertaken this mapping exercise. Once we have the required information, we would be in a better position to startegise future course of action in this regard. Then we have to evolve a mechanism through which these units get benefited through NCCD. We are consulting with experts as how it can be done and how all cold chain owners can be made beneficiaries of NCCD. The other unique trend which we are noticing is that almost 90 percent of cold storages in the country are owned by operators who do not have agri-business as their mainstay. Nothing suprising, the cold storage largely remains an infrastructure piece in isolation in the whole supply chain. It is not integrated and the operators are not concerned about the farmer’s or consumer’s plight. Perishables are supposed to move to best market in particular seasons. But this is not happening. This is the situation even as the government is doling out huge subsidy by way of bearing 40 percent of the cost of setting up a cold storage. Broadly, this works out to be Rs 6000 per metric tonne and this is huge support. Just imagine if a person is setting up a cold storage of 5000 metric
tonne capacity, his project cost is Rs 3 crore and straight away he can ask for Rs 1.20 crore subsidy. Going forward, we need to evolve an intelligent subsidy mechanism. Operators seeking subsidy should furnish the details about their business models. If they do not have a sound business model, why should government subsidy be made available? So its another focus area for NCCD: non-productive and unviable units which have no model for backwardforward linkages should be discouraged. Time has come for integration of cold chain units with efficient supply chain models. It has to be integrated in a manner that cost to consumers should be reduced and returns to farmers should improve. Do you ever get besiged by the feeling that you have almost started on point zero? Or National Horticulture Board has set up a basic platform as far as developing a robust cold chain network in the country is concerned. I don’t think we are starting from point zero. In certain areas we have definitely not made huge gains and much of this
Published on Dec 3, 2013