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North-east India: Farm-side cold storages for vegetables

As a large proportion of produce is damaged every year because of the short shelf life of vegetables or fruits, growers are often forced to opt for distress sales. Now, the Indian Agriculture Department has come up with a scheme to increase this shelf life by setting up portable cold storage facilities near the fields.

According to official figures, around 25% of fruits and vegetables harvested in the Bihar district are damaged before marketing because of lack of proper storage facilities. This is a huge number, as Bihar produced 16.6 million tonnes of vegetables and 4.23 million tonnes of fruits in 2016-17.

"The state government will provide a subsidy of 650,000 rupees (8,100 euros) to set up one portable cold storage. It would be solar-powered, so farmers would not have to bear the recurring power cost," said Agriculture Minister Prem Kumar.

A report claims that if proper storage facilities are not present, the volume of damaged produce would only increase in coming years as the state is aiming to take production levels of vegetables to 25.3 million tonnes and fruits to 6 million tonnes by 2021-22.

A portable cold storage costs around 1.3 million rupees (16,300 euros) and has a capacity to store 5 tonnes of produce at a low temperature. The department has a target to set up 38 solar portable cold storages in the current fiscal year.

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