Valley needs more cold storage units
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Valley needs more cold storage units

The already setup cold storage units didn’t meet the demand, which suggests that the valley needs more cold storage units and ripening chamber facilities

Post by WASEEM AHMAD on Tuesday, November 8, 2022

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No doubt, the J&K UT administration has taken several concrete steps to increase Agriculture and Horticulture production, by tapping different market intervention schemes and post harvest management techniques, and has encouraged/aided the private players and entrepreneurs to swoop into the market by setting up cold storage (CA) facilities, in order to reduce post harvest losses by increasing the shelf life of various Agri and Horticulture products, as well as to address the issue of distressed crop sales.

 

Over the last two years, an enabling environment has been created for transforming J&K’s agriculture and allied sectors, in order to increase the farmer income, besides ensuring food safety to the growers. Apples kept in cold storage in Kashmir are sold on better prices, as the growers see it fit on demand. However, during this ongoing apple harvesting season, where farmers are pumping tones of apples into cold storage units across valley, but irony is that the already setup cold storage units didn’t meet the demand, which suggests that the valley needs more cold storage units and ripening chamber facilities, which will not only facilitate the apple growers, but will open the doors of employment to various unemployed youths and other stakeholders.

 

These observations surfaced in a report recently released by the Hon’ble Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry, that the “cold storage and ripening chamber facilities are not established in J&K, the Agri-produce straight goes to Punjab which results in damage during transportation,” the Union Ministry has noted. Meanwhile apple growers have a concern that this year cold storage units become congested due to over burdening of apple production, resulting in sky touching rates for storage, which growers didn’t bear to pay, which not only forced them to exit early, but to sell it before the time of market demand.

 

Some available data revealed that the valley produces 23 lakh metric tons of apples each year. The Lieutenant Governor's administration is working tirelessly to assist farmers with subsidies, technology, machinery, and post-harvest setup to ensure that farmers in Kashmir get better rates for their products and are not forced to sell their produce at a relatively lower price due to fear of the fruit rotting. Kashmir has about 30 cold storage units having capacity of two lakh metric tons of fruit. Pulwama’s Lasipora industrial area accounts for 22 cold storage units, while Shopian’s Aglar industrial estate area has six Units, one at Anantnag, two at Industrial estate Rangreth Srinagar and three in north Kashmir. Last year the J&K UT administration had said that they’re coming up with three cold storage clusters with an investment of Rs. 500CR . This included 15 cold storages in the industrial estate of Aglar Fruit Mandi in Shopian. But while sharing these observations on cold storages and ripening chambers, the report also shared certain facts about the State of affairs in J&K’s industries and Commerce sector.

 

According to the data shared in the survey titled, ‘LEADS 2022, Logistics Ease Across Different States’, J&K was ranked among the “achievers” category within the UT cluster. The states and Union Territory have been ranked in three different categories – Achievers, Fast Movers and Aspirers – for this year’s ranking. The data revealed that the UT has scored above average across indicators related to quality of Infrastructure including Road, Rail, Terminal and Warehouse. Besides that, the data also noted that the UT has scored above average across all indicators related to Reliability of Logistics Services. Among the UTs, in the ‘Quality of overall logistics services’, Chandigarh, Puducherry and Delhi lead in the category. However, J&K has been placed in the ‘Fast movers’ category along with Daman & Diu/ Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Andaman & Nicobar. “Reasonableness of Road freight rates and Prices of terminal services is perceived to be a challenge as is seen across the cluster. J&K has been rated below average on all indicators related to Operating and Regulatory Environment,” the survey report observed.

 

The survey has also said that there’s a shortage of skilled labour in J&K. As per Industrial policy, to avail industrial benefits 75% of the deputed staff should be local, however local people are not skilled which hampers the trade,” the report has said. According to the survey, currently there are no driver training schools to train the drivers for hilly terrains in J&K. “Walnut kernels and Saffron strands are sent to Delhi from Srinagar by air for Exports, thereby increasing the cost of logistics,” reads the survey, adding that the theft/ pilferage of commodities is also a matter of concern.

 

However, while pointing towards the higher transportation costs, the survey said that due to truck unions at Kathua, transportation rates are high. “Entry tax is levied on non-J&K goods vehicles, which increases the transportation cost,” the survey observed. Keeping this year’s apple production under consideration and expecting much increase in coming years the administration should come up with a policy to implement cold storage clusters, so that demand and supply will get balanced. Market intervention like NAFED and post harvest management techniques should be implemented and encouraged respectively, which will boost the industrial sector resulting in a prosperous UT in terms of economy and food security.

 

 

(The author works at Ambri Research center SKAUST-Kashmir. Email: waseembhatspn@yahoo.com)

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