Investments in cold chains in India could reach USD 15 billion in the next five years, according to a report.
The report by Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) stated cold chains running on renewable energy can help in cutting down loss of perishable items like fruits and vegetables, which runs as high as 40 per cent of the total fresh food produce.
London-headquartered IMechE is a professional body of engineers with over 100,000 members in more than 140 nations.
"India's investment in cold chain is forecast to be USD 15 billion over the next five years," the report said adding to ensure this investment is sustainable and cost effective, there should be a thrust on using renewable energy sources.
"Investment in cold chain infrastructure driven by renewable energy is the key to prevent loss of perishable food, alleviating world hunger, improving health through better nutrition and improving air quality," IMechE, Head of Energy and Environment, Tim Fox said here.
The government, NGOs and retailers should take steps to establish cold chains which use renewable energy like solar power," he added.
Out of the total farm exports of USD 37 billion, fruits and vegetables accounts for just about USD 1.5 billion, the report said.
A major reason for this is that perishable items like fruits and vegetables rot before reaching the consumer due to inadequate supply chain infrastructure, it added.
The report says that 40 per cent of fresh food produce is lost annually in India.
Fox pitched for the use of cryogenic engine technology for cooling of agricultural produce.
"At today's prices, using the cryogenic engine technology highlighted in our report to provide the cooling of large refrigerated lorry or rail containers will cost between a fifth and a third of using diesel for the same job," Fox said.
The technology has the added benefit of zero emission of pollutants, he claimed.
It will help farmers increase their income by selling more produce and also reduce pollution, he added.
Besides, renewable energy resources are available in abundance in India and are the key to unlocking sustainable cold chains, he said.