A panel discussion on ‘Effective Utilisation of Cold Chain to Increase Agricultural Income’ was conducted under the banner of Business Standard Smart Business in association with Federation of Cold Storage Association of India (FCSAI) in Agra. “The cold storage sector and the cold chain industry needs to adopt technology in a wholehearted manner and think of moving towards harnessing the latest post-harvest facilities available in the country and also elsewhere to ensure better income for the farmers who store their hard-earned produce in these storages”, said Panneerselvam Ramaswamy, Principal Director at Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Technology Development Centre, Agra.
Addressing the panel discussion Paneerselvam said that technology can play a big role in improving farmers’ income which includes cutting-edge concepts like big data analytics, robotics, etc.
Mahendra Swarup, President of Federation of Cold Storage Associations of India (FCSAI) said that development of cold chain network has come a long way since independence, but a lot more needs to be done for which proper policy framework should be worked out.
He said policies and plans related to setting up of cold chains and their incentives should be area specific and should not be uniform because a cold storage in Agra will have different needs and requirements than a cold storage in Ahmedabad including the kind of crops that need to be stored.
He said that unless such measure was adopted it would be very difficult to increase farmers’ income.
Bhuvesh Agarwal, national coordinator of FCAOI said that a big problem with policies and programmes and schemes related to boosting cold storages and cold chains is that such are always formulated in a vacuum without adequate and proper consultation with stakeholders.
“More often we find that Centre and state governments frame policies related to cold storages and cold chains without even consulting us, which leads to inadequate results,” Agarwal said.
Rajesh Goyal, secretary of FCAOI said that government should plan properly and ensure that the gap between production of a crop and its final availability in the market is filled adequately by proper cold storages across the country.
He said his industry has been facing a series of shocks since the last few years starting from demonetisation and the latest one being GST.
Ashish Guru, President of Gujarat Cold Storage Association said that to ensure maximum earnings to the farmers, both the state and central governments should plan the crop calendar judiciously.
“Lack of proper statistics on production and output hampers all our planning, governments should ensure that all sort of subsidy in agriculture is routed directly into the bank account of farmers and only to registered growers,” Guru said. This will ensure that only those crops are grown which have a ready market.
Mohit Nandan, Secretary of Uttar Pradesh Cold Storage Association called upon all the industry players to diversify the commodities that they store in their warehouses and not just limit it to one or two commodities.
“Doing this will ensure that farmers are encouraged to grow a variety of crops which will enhance their earnings as well,” Nandan said.