India’s Fruit Supply Chain Struggles Against Heat and Infrastructure Woes

GG News Bureau
New Delhi, 24th May.
In the bustling city of Bhubaneswar, India, the early morning ritual of wholesaler Gadadhara Mohanty underscores a nationwide struggle: the battle against heat and inadequate infrastructure in the fruit supply chain.

Each day, Mohanty eagerly awaits the arrival of trucks laden with bananas from distant farms. Yet, with no refrigeration facilities available, even a slight delay in selling can spell disaster, causing Mohanty’s stockpile to lose value by at least 10%.

This scenario is emblematic of a larger issue plaguing India’s agricultural sector. Despite being the world’s largest producer of bananas and other fruits, the country grapples with staggering post-harvest losses, estimated at 15%. These losses, exacerbated by soaring temperatures and poor infrastructure, have significant ramifications for both farmers and consumers alike.

The root of the problem lies in the lack of adequate cold storage and refrigerated transportation facilities along the supply chain. Small-scale farmers, unable to afford modern cooling technologies, are left vulnerable to the vagaries of weather and market forces. Consequently, spoilage during transit and storage not only diminishes farmers’ earnings but also contributes to higher consumer prices.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has made strides in modernizing infrastructure, farmers argue that progress in their sector has been slow. Despite increased production, the absence of refrigeration infrastructure continues to impede the efficient distribution of perishable goods.

For farmers like Venkatanaidu Guntreddi in Andhra Pradesh, extreme weather events pose a formidable challenge. Rising temperatures have led to greater crop losses, exacerbating financial strain for already marginalized farmers. While cold storage facilities could potentially mitigate these losses, the prohibitive costs render them unattainable for many.

In the absence of adequate infrastructure, farmers are compelled to sell their produce at whatever prices brokers offer, further eroding their earnings. Meanwhile, retailers, constrained by the lack of cold storage, are forced to limit their purchases, affecting both availability and pricing for consumers.

Government subsidies aimed at promoting storage infrastructure have had limited impact due to high investment costs and a predominantly informal food distribution system. According to experts, the perceived lack of profitability deters investors from modernizing the food chain, perpetuating the cycle of inefficiency and waste.

As temperatures continue to rise, the urgency to address these challenges becomes ever more pressing. From farmers struggling to preserve their harvests to consumers grappling with soaring prices, the impact of India’s fruit supply chain woes reverberates across society.

In the face of these challenges, stakeholders must work collaboratively to invest in sustainable solutions that not only reduce post-harvest losses but also ensure food security for millions of Indians. Failure to act risks perpetuating a cycle of inefficiency that undermines the potential of India’s agricultural sector.

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