Revision as of 10:47, 7 December 2014 by ***** (***** | *****)
Post harvest handling and cold storage of fruits and vegetables with a focus on the Indian context
India’s agricultural sector, employing 52% of the nation’s population (IBEF, 2014), accounts for 17.4% of GDP (CIA Factbook, 2014). It has the potential to enable India – which today is the world’s biggest producer of milk, spices and pulses, and the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables worldwide (Worldbank, 2011) – to become a self-sufficient food producer as well as a major food exporter. Currently, however, Indian production merely contributes 1.7% to total international trade of fruits and vegetables (TechSci Research, 2013). Also, prevailing poverty, rapid population growth and below average productivity levels have kept problems of mal and undernourishment that call for an improvement in India’s food supply (Worldbank, 2011).
Whilst productivity levels are one point of possible intervention, the post-harvest chain of food supply cannot be neglected (Kader, 2005). As a matter of fact, out of 76.42 million tons of fruits and 156.32 tons of vegetables produced in India, about 40% go to waste creating an annual loss of about $6 billion. The loss is mainly caused by a lack in food processing and cold storage facilities (TechSci Research, 2013; Worldbank, 2011). Targeting post harvest losses instead of solely focusing on the production site can offer higher internal rates of return, have a significant impact on poverty alleviation, and improvement of health and food security whilst ensuring a more sustainable use of resources (Kader, 2005).