40% of farmed products perish due to lack of proper post harvest operations in India, Opine experts during inauguration of three day Workshop on Post Harvest Technology & Cold Chain Management at Amity University

India is one of the biggest producers of grains, vegetables and fruits but to lack of proper post harvest operations like storage, handling and transportation; around 10-40% of farmed product is perished. To address the issue, Amity International Centre for Post Harvest Technology & Cold Chain Management in collaboration with the Post Harvest Education Foundation, USA is organizing three day Workshop on Post Harvest Technology & Cold Chain Management at Amity University Campus, Sector-125 Noida. Workshop of South Asia Post Harvest E-Learning which was initiated by Post Harvest Education Foundation in January 2012 will be concluded during this workshop.  

Mr. Gokul Patnaik, Chairman - Global Agri System Pvt. Ltd; Dr. Lisa Kitinoja, Founder- The Postharvest Education Foundation, USA; Dr. P. Kohli, Chief Advisor - National Centre for Cold Chain Management; Dr. Balvinder Shukla, Acting Vice Chancellor – Amity University; Dr W. Selvamurthy, President- Amity Science Technology & Innovation Foundation; Dr. Sunil Saran, Chairman, AICPHT&CCM inaugurated the three day workshop.

Mr. Gokul Patnaik, Chairman - Global Agri System Pvt. Ltd said that Post harvest handling of agricultural products is essential for India. Around 33% of vegetables and 7-8% of grains loss is in the post harvest stage. Mr. Patnaik said that definition of losses vary but ideally it should be measurable in terms of nutritional losses. In India most of products are consumed even when they are stale or not fit for consumption, therefore losses due to decrease in nutritional value should also be considered in total wastage. Mr. Patnaik said that the only solution to overcome this sort of wastage is cold chain management and cold storages. Mr. Patnaik shared that more than 1000 crores has been spent in last 6 years in subsidies provided to set up cold storages in our country. Around 8 lakh metric ton of cold storage capacity is there in India, but to bridge the gap between demand and supply around 3 crore 72 lakh metric ton capacity is needed.  Mr. Patnaik stated that cold storage as stand alone system, in cold chain management is not the complete solution because deterioration of products start right from the farms. Handling and transporting of product is important. Ideally the product should be moved to cold storage within 2 hours of cutting, but in India most of the farms are remotely located and inaccessible to cold storage facilities. South East Asia, especially India needs more cold storage and post harvest knowledge due to three reasons:

-          Infrastructure is not good

-          We are most populous part of world

-          Income level is low and accepts food in any condition it comes in market.

Dr. Lisa Kitinoja, Founder- The Postharvest Education Foundation, USA said Globally, food losses and postharvest wastes are estimated to 30 to 40% of production. Losses of perishable foods such as fruits and vegetables can be even higher during the postharvest period, depending upon the weather, access to storage or distance from markets. Utilizing improved postharvest practices often result in reduced food losses, improved overall quality and food safety and higher profits for growers and marketers. Describing about her institute, Dr. Kitinoja said that The Postharvest Education Foundation (PEF) is a non-profit public charity that aims to provide training and information to help people around the world to reduce postharvest food losses and food waste. The foundation provides a variety of postharvest e-learning programs for young professionals who work with small scale farmers in developing countries; providing free postharvest training materials for those involved in extension work and training of farmers, small scale food processors and marketers; provide access to postharvest tools and basic equipment for use in applied research and for improving practical field operations; organizes postharvest workshops for e-learners who successfully complete their online programs; provides long term mentoring for participants in e-learning programs via social networking websites and give advice and guidance for establishing local postharvest training centers. Dr. Kitinoja informed that the current South Asia 2012 Postharvest E-Learning Program was started in January 2012 with participants from India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Srilanka, Bangladesh and today with this workshop we are culminating our program.

Dr. Balvinder Shukla, Acting Vice Chancellor – Amity University said that the entire world is facing the challenge of post harvest technology. Elaborating on India farming system Dr. Shukla said that in India there are three type of farmers; big farmers which can afford all the technologies, Small farmers who can not afford any new technology and very small farmers who usually tilt the land of big farmers. Dr. Shukla added that many times the loss in crops happens just before harvest due to pests or lack of rain. Sometimes farmers don’t have sufficient space to store their entire farm product and get exploited by middle man. There are many post harvest technologies which are not very costly but due to lack of awareness in post harvest technologies, farmers are not using it. There is need to educate farmers on Post Harvest Technology.

Dr. P. Kohli, Chief Advisor - National Centre for Cold Chain Management said that cold chain is not just about protecting and handling of product rather it is buying of more time and increasing life cycle till it is sold. Cold chain is a supply chain system moving towards market. Cold Chain system allows farmers to go thousand of kilometers and buy time to sell his product in different markets. Dr. Kohli said that cold chain is not just about handling horticulture, our country is largest exporter of meat, thanks to Cold chain; dairy industry can not work without cold chain system; thousand of children of India is polio free just due to delivery of polio oral vaccines with the help of cold chain system. Dr. Kohli said cold chain system includes post harvest, packaging conditioning, making buffer stock and moving it to market.

Two technical sessions were organized during the day in which Dr. S.K. Roy. Professor Emeritus – Amity University shared his views on “On-farm storage technology can save energy and raise farm income. Mr. Sunit Saran from The SCS Group deliberated on Cold Chain Management – A task made more uphill with debates in India. Mr. Amit Sachdev from US Grains Council briefed the audience about Food Safety in Fruits & Vegetables. Dr. Nazir Mir, Global Expert talked on “Shelf life extension and maintenance of banana fruit. Dr. Kit L, Yam, Director, Graduate Program – Rutgers USA presented his views on the topic “Modified atmosphere packaging for perishable produce”.

The workshop will be concluded on August 8, 2013.

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