"West Bengal faces a shortfall of 12 lakh metric tonnes of cold storage capacity. The post-harvest fruits and vegetable losses are worth over Rs 13,600 crore annually," Head of Energy and Environment of Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) Tim Fox said.
IME had recently conducted a study, "A Tank of Cold: Cleantech Leapfrog to a more food secure world" on farm losses in the country and trying to sentitise cost-effective technologies in cold chain, the most crucial element in stemming farm losses. In 2013, West Bengal was India's leading horticulture producing state with over 27,000 tonne of fruits and vegetables accounting for over 10 per cent share of India, but the state has only 5.682 million tonnes of functioning cold storage capacity out of national capacity of 30.11 million tonne, the study said.
The institution forecast India's investment in cold chain to be USD 15 billion over the next five years. The study highlights that India is the world's largest producer of milk, and second only to China in fruit and vegetables.
Yet agriculture, which makes up 53% of the workforce, generates just 15 per cent of GDP. The study also points that lack of proper handling and an inadequate cold and frozen supply chain or 'cold chain' leads to losses of perishable food produce, such as fruit and vegetables, of as much as 50 per cent every year in India.