India ranks first in the world in production of fruits and second in vegetables, accounting roughly 10 and 15 per cent, respectively, of total global production. India have a strong and dynamic food processing sector playing a vital role in diversifying the agricultural sector, improving value addition opportunities and creating surplus food for agro-food products. Presently, a mere 2.2 per cent of fruits and vegetables are processed, even as the country ranks second in the world in terms of production. This is comparatively low when compared to other countries like Brazil (30 per cent), USA (70 per cent) and Malaysia (82 per cent). The National policy aims to increase the percentage of food being processed in the country to 10 per cent by 2010 and 25 per cent by 2025. Major vegetables grown are Potato, Onion, Tomato, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Bean, Egg Plants, Cucumber, Gherkin, Peas, Garlic and okra. The major fruits grown in India are Mangos, Grapes, Apple, Apricots, Orange, Banana Fresh, Avocados, Guava, Litchi, Papaya and Water Melons. Mango, accounts for 40 percent of the national fruit production and India is one of the leading exporters of fresh table grapes to the global market. The changing food habits are discernible. There has been a positive growth in ready to serve beverages, fruit juices and pulps, processed fruits and vegetables products, i.e., dried or preserved and dehydrated vegetables and fruits such as sauces, preserved onions, cucumbers and gherkins, green pepper in brine, dehydrated garlic and ginger powder, dried garlic and ginger, tomato products, pickles and chutneys, processed mushrooms and truffles and curried vegetables. The goal of keeping fruit and vegetables fresh is to preserve vitamins, flavour and crispness. The condition of vegetables and most fruits begins to deteriorate as soon as they picked. Nearly one third of our horticultural produce, especially fruits and vegetables are wasted, mainly on account of poor cold storage and other storage facilities. Wastage of fruits and vegetables due to poor post-harvest management and lack of cold chain facilities have been estimated to cost up to Rs 500 billion annually. The country also experiences wide fluctuations in prices of horticultural produce, particularly potatoes and onions. The cold storages will help boost exports of agricultural and allied produce, marine produce etc. Other food segments like dairy products, and processed meat, also require cold storage facilities. Freezing is a quick, convenient, and popular way to preserve fruits and vegetables. Freezing is not usually as economical as canning, but it preserves more nutrients in the food if properly done. Built-in-place cold storage can be constructed out of wood pole and post, steel and/or concrete block. The construction cost will depend on labor cost and on the type of materials used for the frame, walls, floor, ceiling and insulation. The cooling process is one of the most important steps in the entire process that brings fruits and vegetables from the farm to the storage table. Incentives to build cold-storage facilities will bring investment, cut food wastage and smoothen the supply chain in the world's second biggest producer of fruits and vegetables. Government Support for cold storage plants are available in the form of subsidies with consultancy services to help connecting farmers to market & to avoid heavy losses & wastes of food products. With a view to ensuring faster development of cold storage capacity and to encourage entrepreneurs to invest more in this sector, a new credit-linked capital subsidy scheme for construction of cold storages and godowns is being availed from government. The scheme would be implemented by NABARD/NCDC/NHB. National Horticulture Board is providing capital subsidy to entrepreneurs for construction, expansion and modernization of cold storages for horticulture products. This scheme is to promote setting up of cold storages in the country for reducing post harvest losses. A subsidy of 25% of the project cost subject to a maximum of Rs.50 lakh per project will be availed under this scheme. However, for the projects in the northeastern States, maximum subsidy admissible would be Rs.60 lakh @ 33.33% of the project cost. Cold Storages including controlled Atmosphere (CA) and Modified Atmosphere (MA) Stores, pre-cooling units and other Storages for onion etc. Naturally this scheme will attract new investment in this sector. This move is a good decision for agriculture sector which is struggling with food wastage problem. Cold storage facilities are limited and the focus of the recent budget on bringing in more investment will boost warehousing and cold storage sector.
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