Indian co-operatives should look at farm-level value-addition of four produce for benefit in the short-term and it can help in overcoming any production glut, storage expert Munishwar Vasudeva has said.

In a presentation made to one of the co-operative majors, Vasudev, who has worked as a silo design specialist with the Bangladesh government, said producing tomato puree and potato granules, besides drying corn (maize) and groundnut mechanically can help in exporting value-added products. 

“These four crops can be focussed as farmers generally are caught in a vicious cycle of supply gut when demand is not there. This holds true more for potatoes and tomatoes. When there is over-supply against consistent demand, prices drop and a good portion gets rotten substantially,” said Vasudeva, who worked with Adani Logistics to set up a few silos across the country. 

Raising farmers’ income

Tomato needs technology to make puree and properly packaged for a longer shelf life till the new crop arrives. Surplus can be exported, he said. Again making potato granules with airtight packing or converting to French fries are possible near the farmgate, the storage expert said, adding that global demand for granules has been increasing constantly. 

Corn and groundnut are harvested with a high moisture of 30 per cent. They are mostly sun-dried but this results in hygienic issues such as aflatoxin, leading to problems while exporting. 

Quick drying through efficient dryers can solve such issues and make it export worthy, while farmers can get a premium in the domestic market, said Vasudeva, currently the Managing Director of Lotus Harvestec Pvt Ltd. 

Tackling these four issues can help the Ministry of Cooperative to help raise farmers income. Though farmer producer organisations (FPOs) have been doing a good job, they lack technical skills such as those required to do value-addition to the four crops. 

Subsidies available

“Mapping these four crops based on satellite imaging can guide policy makers where to invest in these technologies. Agricultural Universities can be involved in spreading and supervising the installations and operations. Products from these plants should be of International standards,” he said.

Co-operatives such as Kribhco, Amul and Nafed, besides IFFCO, can be given the responsibility for these commercial transactions, particularly for sales and marketing for domestic consumption and exports.

A lot of subsidised capital and operating loans are available for building post-harvest infrastructure at the village level. FPOs would need hand holding for providing these post harvest solutions, Vasudeva said.

Adapting these four crops with post-harvest solutions will bring lot of value to the table such as low level of food inflation, regular income without market shocks for farmers and employment generation. GDP contribution from the agriculture sector will also increase manifold, he said. 

Any investment in these crops will be self-sustainable that policymakers cannot ignore, he said, adding that his firm was ready to handhold FPOs or public sector units.