- July 13, 2014
"NE can become the largest producer of organic foods in the world," Gen. V.K. Singh told the National Cold Chain Summit at Guwahati. "Food processing and cold chain storage are of utmost importance to NE," Singh said, adding that 40 per cent of food in the country was wasted due to lack of storage facilities. He emphasised on the need to establish cold chain, which would work as market links and be beneficial to both farmers and consumers. Gen. Singh is the recently appointed Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (DONER) holding independant charge.
Speaking on the occasion, Secretary to the Ministry of Food Processing Siraj Hussain spoke about giving government support in creating cold storage units in North East. "Return in this business is very low. Power availability in NE is a problem. So at least for next five years, government support is needed," he said. According to a study in 2010, the gap of such facilities stood at 30 million tonne, while the country could add only 10 million tonne in 10 years, Hussain said. He urged Singh to increase the current limit of Rs 10 crore grant given to an individual creating such a facility. Hussain also requested that the grant given for building non-horticulture cold storage given by state governments, be raised from the existing Rs 4-5 crore.
CEO and Chief Advisor of National Centre for Cold-chain Devleopment, Pawanexh Kohli riveted the audience with his explanations and he offered a grand vision for the North eastern region. In creating a cold chain netwrok, he stated very clear bottlenecks specific to the region. He continued to explain a network comprising of 500 pack house interconnected with a few hubs by almost 200 small refrigerated vehicles and very few hubs in the large cities. He spoke of railway connectivity as a necesssity and congratulated the North East for receiving attention on this aspect in the Union Budget of 2014-15. Mr. Kohli alleviated many misconceptions about the cold chain at this summit. he explained the wide spread economic impact that cold chains can have for this region.
This summit was organised by ICC (Indian Chamber of Commerce) on behalf of Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MFPI) and National Centre for Cold chain Development (NCCD). The summit was attended by an audience that came from all the States in this region.