Views and comments on budget by Mr Chandrakant Patel, CMD, ICE Make
Mr Chandrakant Patel, CMD, Ice Make Refrigeration Limited urged the Finance Minister Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman to direct at least 10-15% of the budgetary allocation towards developing an effective ecosystem for proper storage of produce and cold chain infrastructure. India is short by 25 million tonnes of cold storage capacity and over 60,000 refrigerated trucks and there is an urgent need to fill this huge capacity gap.
He says “The government needs to do a lot more to fuel agricultural growth and treat the root cause behind India’s poverty and urban rural divide. The main challenge is providing skills and economic opportunity to rural India. India needs to save nearly Rs l lakh crore of nation’s money which is lost due to wastage of produce, by building proper storage capacities. Proper storage facilities can help agriculture and allied activities be lucrative and encourage people to continue farming. We need to prevent harvest and post-harvest losses which makes the farming less lucrative. Pre and post harvest losses were estimated at about Rs 92,651 crore in 2016-17, which is a huge loss to the farmers and the economy year after year.
This wastage is due to gaps in the cold chain such as poor infrastructure, insufficient cold storage capacity, unavailability of cold storages in proximity to farms and weak transportation infrastructure. Every year, farmers make such a huge loss for not being able to sell their produces for which they make investments as per their capacity. Just to make sense of this staggering figure: This amounts to 70 per cent of the investment required for making available cold-chain infrastructures essential for avoiding post-harvest losses.
The FM has allocated 1.3 trillion rupees to the agriculture sector to spur the growth. We believe this budgetary allocation would lay strong foundation for the next generation of agricultural reforms that can transform the rural economy, create more jobs and boost demand. To re-energies the rural economy, the government has been trying to bring in various policy reforms like model code farming, e-markets, incubation of the zero budget farming, emphasis on the skilling of workers, setting up of 10,000 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), encouraging private entrepreneurship, increased public expenditure on developing agri-infra like micro-irrigation, cold storage capacity building and a national warehouse grid which are all welcome steps, He said
In our capacity as a key player in cold chain business Ice Make Refrigeration Limited which is one of the leading manufacturer & supplier of cooling solutions equipment, has started manufacturing of an affordable solar powered cold storage unit for interior areas where proper storage temperature and adequate infrastructure is not available due to non -availability of regular power. With the growth and popularity of Farmer Producer Organizations, we expect the demand for solar cold storage units to increase. These units with 40-50% governmentsubsidy and easy access to credit facility make them affordable and can generate additional economic opportunity, investment and employment in the agriculture sector. These storage units can provide competitive edge to the FPOs (Farmer Producer Organizations) and increase their bargaining capacity in the open market. The government should create awareness and encourage them invest in cold storage facilities and have better negotiation power with large buyers, he added
However, the main challenge we are facing is lack of awareness and the information gap that needs to be bridged at the earliest by all stakeholders, including the government to help the farmers, small entrepreneurs and others in the value chain. Even as we move on the policy front, we must also bridge the huge knowledge gap in Indian agriculture between farmers on one side and value chain providers on the other. Farmers should be trained on latest farming technology, smart use of fertilisers, better understanding of crop rotation, micro-irrigation and benefits of cold storage and technology driven transport services” said Mr Patel