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British experts join Indian farmers to reduce food loss sustainably

British experts are in Delhi, Haryana and Hyderabad working out the most effective way of helping farmers to increase economic wellbeing by making the most of improved crop post-harvest management and clean, sustainable chilled distribution systems.

4 March 2020, at 12:37pm

Half of India’s employment depends on agriculture. Prime Minister Modi has stated his vision for doubling farmers' income to set forth a strategic direction for future development. Agri-logistics is a vital component in the Government of India’s farm income strategy.

Indian State Governments plan to set up a series of Integrated Pack Houses aggregating and linking clusters of smallholder farmers to markets by refrigerated transport links that use energy efficient and sustainable technologies – reducing food loss and decreasing the amount of wasted produce.

The Government of India is keen to develop projects, including joint collaborative research, that can demonstrate innovative, sustainable technologies for pack House Management and cold-chain solutions. Haryana State Government, for example, is planning to create more than 350 Pack houses in the state whilst the Government of India is targeting 22,000 new agri-processing and logistics hubs.

In partnership with the British High Commission in India and the Agri-Tech sector team at the Department for International Trade, British experts are developing a plan for a UK India collaboration for the first of a kind ‘Centre of Excellence’ in Haryana to support roll-out of sustainable post-harvest management and cooling at scale in India.

Led by experts from the newly formed Centre for Sustainable Cooling at the University of Birmingham, the UK team also includes academics from Cranfield University, London South Bank University, University of Greenwich and NIAB East Malling Research as well as industry experts including Martin Lishman.

Information gathered in India this week will form the basis of an industry workshop on 2 April 2020 hosted by the University of Birmingham at its UK campus to consider opportunities for industry engagement in this fast-growing market opportunity.

Toby Peters, Professor of Cold Economy at the University of Birmingham, commented: “Food loss is a major challenge with up to 40% of some produce grown lost between farm and market. Focusing on how food can be saved in the supply chain is as important as food produced.

“We are bringing together UK and Indian partners to create template projects showcasing sustainable technology and expertise that could help farmers in India maximise their income by reducing waste, maintaining product quality and connecting to more distant markets. The challenge is to achieve this sustainably using renewable energy solutions.”

The recently-established Centre for Sustainable Cooling (CSC) will work closely with governments, international development agencies, NGOs and industry to deliver access to sustainable cooling for all.

Professor Peters commented further: “Access to cooling is not a luxury. It is about fresh food, safe medicines and protection from heat for populations in a warming world. It is vital for economic productivity as it allows workers, farmers and students to function effectively in comfortable environments.

“If we are to deliver access to cooling for all who need it, we will potentially see four times as many appliances deployed using five times as much energy as today. How we meet this challenge and provide cooling for all will have important ramifications not only for our climate, but also for our broader aspirations for a sustainable future.”