‘Cold chains must be linked to farm clusters’

To enhance infrastructure, cold storage operators want the government to relax the existing norms related to floor space usage and give rebate in property tax

By Sai Nikesh

India has cold storage capacity of up to 31.8 million tonnes and the gap in the country’s cold chain is much due to lack of connectivity between storage facilities and farm clusters, a report has said.

The report— All India Cold-chain Capacity Assessment (Status & Gaps) – prepared by the National Centre for Cold-chain Development (NCCD) highlights the need of modern pack-houses and refrigerated transport to ensure the growth of the country’s food processing industry.

“The lack of pack-houses and transport connectivity results in a breach in the integrity of cold-chain. This also results in most of the cold storage capacity being used to store only crops like potato, dried chillies, pulses, etc. which do not need onwards cold-chain connectivity,” it said.

Releasing the report, Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Sanjeev Balayan, said, “This study by NCCD has underlined the missing links in agri-logistics and will help devise long term plans and policies to improve our cold-chain networks.”

To enhance infrastructure, cold storage operators want the government to relax the existing norms related to floor space usage and give rebate in property tax.

“It is very essential to create pack-houses and in order to implement this cold-chain infra, there is a need to bring reforms in urban land Floor Space Index (FSI) and also provide special provisions like offering additional FSI keeping in view the cost complexity of urban land,” says Ashish Guru, senior vice-president of Federation of Cold Storage Associations of India (FCSAI).

Ashish Guru, who is also the president of Gujarat Cold Storage Association, said that property tax on cold storage units should be reduced, special agriculture tariff should be given like the way it was done in Maharashtra two years back and like in Gujarat, fruits & vegetables should be kept away from the purview of Agri-Produce-Market-Committee (APMC).

He said the NCCD should also stress on multi commodity and multi temperature cold storages.

“But to get viability, service tax on cold storage has to be removed as there is no clear definition for the service tax department on storage of agri produce,” he added.

According to the study, India has only 250 pack-houses against the requirement of about 70,000. The study projected gap in India’s cold store capacity at about 3.5 million tonnes in space.

This article was published in The Dollar Business on September 05, 2015

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