India’s greatest need for sustainable food management is an effective and economically viable cold chain solution that will totally integrate the supply chain for all commodities, from the production centers to the consumption centers. Such market connectivity reduces physical loss and degradation of value of the harvest, and is a major contributor to farmers’ incomes. The growth of the cold chain sector is critical for both the agricultural and food processing sectors.
The paradox is that, in spite of the large infrastructure gap, the existing capacity is under-utilized and units operate below capacity.
India’s cold chain industry is still in the development phase. The gap in cold chain infrastructure is estimated as 69,381 modern pack-houses, 3.27 million MT of new cold storage aptly segregated into cold storage (bulk) and cold storage (hubs), 52826 units of refrigerated transport vehicles/containers, and 8319 modern ripening chambers.
Given the Government’s priority towards doubling farmers’ income, it is clear that India needs to move from a supply-led revolution to a concerted effort in creating capacities and efficiencies in its networks from farm to markets. Cold chain infrastructure is pivotal to this and can play a catalytic role in enabling the 2nd Green Revolution.
The Government of India has taken various measures to give a boost to the cold chain sector in the form of various fiscal incentives like reduced taxes, excise duty exemption on refrigerated machinery, concessional custom duty of 5%, viability gap funding, infrastructure status, 100% weighted deduction under income tax, et al.
With the onset of the GST regime in India that will integrate the multi-layered tax system into a single unified system, the supply chain is expected to see a shift, due to the changing tax structure, incidence, computation, payments, compliance, credit utilization and reporting. Cold chains requiring inter-State logistics and transactions are also expected to see a shift. Industry needs to gear up and put its systems in place to adapt to the impending changing regime to maximize efficiencies.
Underscoring the need to find solutions to strengthen the cold chain infrastructure in the country, the 6th National Cold Chain Summit was organized to explore the innovations and interventions needed to catalyze investments across the food value chain, and, as well, share sustainable global best practices in this arena.