That’s according to Harsimrat Kaur Badal, India’s dynamic minister for food processing, who said she hoped that cold chain development would help double farmers’ incomes, reduce waste and strengthen supply chains.
India’s crumbling and under-invested supply chain desperately needs investment. Indeed, according to estimates by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, some 40% of fresh fruit and vegetables—worth an annual $8.3bn or so—perishes before reaching consumers.
Each year, the FAO believes, some 21m metric tonnes of wheat—almost equal to Australia’s total annual production—rots in India due to improper storage.
She said that with her long-cherished plan of foreign direct investment in place since June, an improved supply chain guided by international companies could link farm producers with retail outlets.
Moreover, the creation of farmer-led organisations for crop-specific clusters would lead to a more integrated supply chain across India, she said, adding that the CII, an industry representative body, had been tasked with creating a task force to link these organisations to manufacturers.
Meanwhile, Badal has also announced that all 42 state-sanctioned “mega food parks” would be operational within the next two years, and revealed plans to set up a further 500 cold chain projects to reduce post-harvest losses of fruits and vegetables.
"Eight mega food parks have become operational and another four parks will be online in the next three to four months,” the minister said.
She added that this would help increase the amount of fruit and vegetable processing, which currently languishes at just 10 per cent.
A total of 138 integrated cold chain project have been sanctioned by the government, of which 91 are now operational.
International food companies have been showing keen interest in investing in the food processing sector after the government allowed 100% FDI in the marketing of food products manufactured and produced in India, she added.