About one million tonne of onions, and 2.2 million tonnes of tomatoes never reach markets each year, rotting due to unavailability of cold storage facilities, according to the Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology.
In total, about 16 per cent of fruit and vegetables are wasted. Total post-harvest loss totals about $13 billion. Additionally, due to lack of refrigeration and farm-level processing, the country is losing a significant opportunity to export.
CoolCrop, Ecozen, and Inficold are among a group of start-ups working to solve this issue, designing products to instantly chill milk, to store perishable crops at the point of harvest, and in some cases bundling the solutions with predictive market analytics and crop management to permit farmers to optimize sales.
Farmers also save on energy costs compared to legacy solutions as they are using renewable energy in many cases.
Directly processing and packaging products on site help farmers retain more value and negotiate better with other supply chain stakeholders.
It allows farmers to aggregate their produce in cold storage and increase its shelf life. This also helps farmers to negotiate better margins with vendors.
For example, S4S Technologies, the company behind the solar dryer, which is backed by venture development firm FACTOR[e], sells value-added produce into three channels:
- Large-scale processed food companies like Marico Foods,
- institutional customers in the hotels, restaurants,
- and catering sector, and its own branded (‘DesiVidesi’) products for the urban consumer market.
As the government’s ambitious solar irrigation program rushes ahead, a growing cohort of entrepreneurs and investors are turning their attention to unlocking even greater value for farmers with innovative solutions powered by renewable energy.
Reference- Economic Times