New Delhi: India could soon have its first integrated cold storage market for fresh fruit and vegetables at an estimated cost of Rs2,000 crore. It will be modelled on the Rungis Marche International near Paris. Pradeep Wig, chairman of industry body Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (Assocham) Agriculture and Food Processing Committee, said the government is scouting for 200 acres of land outside the Capital for the wholesale market. Assocham is the facilitating agency for the project.
“The Rajasthan government is willing to give 150 acres of land for building the market. Rajasthan could in fact be an ideal location for this project since the state has rich agricultural resources,” Wig said.
The market will be modelled on the lines of Rungis, the world’s largest fresh produce wholesale market, which opened in 1969. It covers 232 hectares. The market achieved sales of €7.1 billion (Rs40,470 crore) in 2004—the last year for which figures are available.
While a state will provide land, the Union government is looking for a company or a consortium of companies to execute the project. Rungis Wholesale Market Authority (RWMA), the company which built and runs the Rungis market, is one of the contenders for the project. RWMA is a semi-public company and the French government is its majority shareholder.
When contacted, an official from the ministry for food processing industries, who did not wish to be named, said the ministry did have a proposal to set up a cold chain market.
“We will only be the facilitators of the project. We will not have anything to do with its execution,” he said.
The wholesale market will be a storage and distribution point. The plan is that suppliers of food items such as vegetables and fruits should be able to bring the produce from Punjab and Haryana by refrigerated trucks to the market.
The market will have separate pavilions for vegetables, fruits, meat and other perishables. The pavilions will have refrigerated stalls, which can be rented by retailers, restaurateurs and import-export companies to store the produce they have sourced till the time they need it.
Wholesale suppliers can also rent stalls in the market to sell their produce to retail chains, restaurants, grocery stores and other bulk buyers. Apart from the stalls, the market would have hotels, banks, ATMs and business centres. “It will be an integrated market with all the facilities to ensure a smooth flow of business,” Wig said.
In india, 40% of perishable food items are wasted every year because of lack of cold-storage facilities.
Potential users reacted with caution. Sanjeev Asthana, president of agri and food supply chain, Reliance Retail Ltd, said, “We’ll look at what form of participation we can have.... Once we know the details, we can react....”
Rasul Bailay contributed to this story.