Van Amerongen technology invited an investment of Rs 15.5 crore
For the apple growers of Uttarakhand, a Dutch technology-built cold storage has come as a boon to end the age-old problem of decaying and rotting of the fruit.
The green cold storage where oxygen level is brought roughly around one to two degrees of the atmospheric level has already started functioning yesterday from the apple belt of Nogaon in Uttarkashi district.
An investment of Rs 15.5 crore came from Stichting Het Groene Woudt (SHGW), a Dutch foundation with the help of Fresh Food Technology, another global company from Holland which has developed the Van Amerongen technology for preserving apples.
Nearly 60 metric tonnes of apples arrived yesterday in the cold storage which would be sold at later stages.
“This is the first cold storage exclusively for apples in the entire Garhwal region,” said Laxmi Prakash Semwal, who is heading Shri Jagdamba Samiti, a local NGO, which took the entire initiative to bring the Dutch players into the apple belt of the hill state.
The cold storage has the capacity to store nearly 1000 metric tonnes of apples for nearly nine months. This year, nearly 200-300 tonnes of apples would be procured for the storage, said Semwal.
Farmers are getting a price of Rs 50-55 per kg now against the market price of Rs 80-100, said Semwal. This is being seen as an immediate 20 to 30 per cent jump in the prices.
“Our main focus will be to remove middlemen from the apple business due to which farmers do not get the real price,” said Semwal.
The apple project consists of four decentralised apple collection centres in the Garwhal region. Farmers are encouraged to join the cooperative through which they can process and sell their produce jointly at better price.
For the procurement of apples from different areas, a joint venture company comprising farmers and the Dutch players has also been set up which is using refrigerated vans.
According to Vinod Fonia, horticulture secretary, the wastage through decaying and rotting of apples is very high in the hills — up to 40 to 50 per cent.