New Delhi: To reduce wastage of agricultural produce and add value to farmers’ harvests ranging from fruits and vegetables to fish, dairy and marine products, the government has approved 101 cold chain projects across the country.
“With a subsidy of Rs838 crore, the cold chain projects will bring in investments of nearly Rs3,100 crore," food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said on Monday. She added that about 2.6 lakh farmers will benefit from these projects which will also provide employment to 60,000 youth.
Citing studies commissioned by the ministry, Badal said about Rs92,000 crore of farm produce goes waste every year and farmers are often forced to dump their harvest of fruits and vegetables.
“Hardly 10% of the horticulture produce is processed or reaches cold storages which is mostly used to store potatoes," Badal said.
She added that the focus of the food processing ministry is to create a national food grid, reduce post-harvest losses and make the agriculture supply chain efficient. “Our goal is to push farmers towards value addition and improve their incomes," Badal said.
“We are now planning to map farm clusters across the country where processing and cold chain infrastructure is weak and, in future, applications will be sought based on these parameters," she added.
According to the ministry, the new cold chain projects will create an additional capacity of 2.76 lakh tonnes of cold storage and controlled atmosphere treatment, help process 5.6 million litres of milk per day and add about 629 refrigerated vehicles to India’s cold chain network.
With 21 projects approved by the ministry, Maharashtra tops the list followed by Uttar Pradesh (14), Gujarat (12) and Andhra Pradesh (8). Of the 101 projects, 51 are for fruits and vegetables, while 33 are for dairy and 15 for meat, marine and poultry products.
In 2015, the food processing ministry approved 30 cold chain projects. The ministry provides up to Rs10 crore in grants to each of the approved projects which have to be completed within a period of two years.