The Federation of Cold Storage Association of India (FCAOI) has requested the government to extend the benefits of the economic package announced to 6,000-odd cold storage facilities, which have been working continuously even during the lockdown to ensure the food security of the country.

“We are working closely with the governments and people to ensure that fruits, vegetables and other perishable products are available to consumers even during this lockdown period. Farm produce continues to come to us for dispatch to different parts of the country. We would like the government to appreciate the work we are doing and give us a token of appreciation,” FCAOI president Rajesh Goyal told BusinessLine .

Among other things, Goyal said, the governments can offer discounts on electricity consumed by these cold storages. More importantly, a word of appreciation from authorities would actually boost the morale of the cold storage industry. There are cold storage associations at national, State and district levels, he said.

Potato storage

According to Goyal, potatoes have become the third largest food produce stored in the country after rice and wheat. The only difference is that while public-funded Food Corporation of India stocks the foodgrain, the storage of potatoes is taken care of by the cold storage industry, which is predominantly owned and operated by the private sector. Since 2000, cold storages have started coming up in different parts of the country.

He said that as many as 5,000 cold storages in the country are exclusively used for storing potatoes, and added that Uttar Pradesh alone has 2,000 cold storages for the tuber crop. “Cold storages in UP have the capacity to store as many as 32 to 34 crore sacks of potatoes (nearly 1.6 to 1.7 million tonnes),” Goyal said on telephone from Agra.

According to him, this year’s capacity utilisation of cold storage facilities is around 65 per cent as against 78 per cent last year. He said there are several reasons for the lower capacity utilisation this year. Firstly, the production was lower as there was a 10 per cent reduction in area sown. Besides, there has been some loss due to adverse weather.

In addition, many farmers sold much higher quantity of freshly harvested crop in the last few weeks as the prices were good. According to some farmers in Agra, prices hovered around ₹1,800 a quintal, which is nearly the double what they got during the corresponding period last year. However, the prices have started sliding since then, they said.

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