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Pain and promise in cold chain For majority of critics and observers of Indian agri-business particularly perishables, ‘criminal wastage’ is the term they mostly use to define the state of the affairs of this business. And there hardly seems to be any exaggeration in their prouncement. Just imagine- 30-40% of your earnings slipping out of pockets just because you consistently fail to fix its porousness. At the root of the problem, of course, lies an extremely poor cold chain infrastructure network in the country. It’s a problem not only of colossal scarcity (the government itself admits that as against the present requirement of 61 million tonnes of cold storage capacity, the actual availability is to the tune of 29 million tonnes) but also of outdated management. More than anything else probably, a very strong element of casualness in running and operating cold chains is the biggest pain point today. In this edition, we turn our focus on cold chains and there are two strong elements which have been put together to draw the big picture. Firstly, in association with apex knowledge chamber ASSOCHAM, we organised a big debate session inviting some senior representatives from cold chain industry to discuss the sub-plots of this story mired in sluggishness. And secondly, there is an exlusive interview of Shailendra Kumar, Head, National Centre for Cold-chain Development (NCCD) – an agency which has been formed by the government and is slated to assume the responsibility of a regulator for cold chains eventually. This is the first lengthy interview which head of NCCD has given to any publication after the agency became functional this July. The no-hold-barred conversation with him was critical in the sense that cold chain development in this country would be guided by NCCD now and hence while presenting the state of affairs of cold chain in this edition, we have a lot to underline in the futuristic sense. On a cumulative basis, both big debate and the exclusive interview with Shailendra Kumar has brought forth the pain (which are in galore) and the promises (which are presently hazy…nevertheless they are not non-existent altoghther) in no uncertain terms. The summing statement could well be: the business needs a complete overhaul of the mindset of the stakeholders to assume a viable avatar. Technological upgradation is a must, intelligent subsidisation is the need of the hour, empowering farmers is imperative, consumers interest has to be preserved, big retailers have to show a big heart to create robust forward-backward linkage platform, etc. Leaf through the cover piece of this edition and you would probably get a sense of new possibilities which await Indian cold chain business going ahead. Of course, this would entail all stakeholders to think and do things afresh. Old patterns simply won’t work any longer if we want our perishable businesses to provide yields attuned to their potential. Here, it would also be interesting to watch how NCCD’s own story unfolds in the future in terms of steering cold chain development story. We would obviously be keeping a close watch. Waiting for your feedback Ritwik Sinha LOGISTICS TIMES August 2011

Lt nov 2012 for net  
Lt nov 2012 for net