The need for India to move from food security to nutritional security is a long calling. In order to address this calling, the role of nutritional agriculture produce such as dairy, vegetables and fruits will be vital. Other than nutritional value, this produce can be a wealth generator for the farmer. But to achieve the potential of these crops, there is a need to understand the bottlenecks and hindrances, and what can be done to eliminate them. Keeping this in mind, the Free Press Journal and SIES in association with NSE, NCDEX Investor (Client) Protection Fund Trust, and East West Seeds is organising a webinar — The emerging wealth generator in farming is vegetables and fruit — on August 6, 3 pm onwards.
Click here to register.
The panellist for this webinar are (in alphabetical order) Narendra Dhandre, DGM, Netafim; Pankaj Maheshwari, VP – Food and Water Division – India – Middle East and Africa, Alfa Laval; K E Muthu, Commercial Lead, Seminis Vegetable Seeds, South Asia & South-East Asia, Bayer; Dilip Rajan, MD, East-West Seed; and Dr Omveer Singh, MD, NDDB Dairy Services.
According to APEDA, India ranks second in fruits and vegetables production in the world, after China. During 2018-19, India exported fruits and vegetables worth Rs 10,236.93 crore which comprised fruits worth Rs 4,817.35 crore and vegetables worth Rs 5,419.48 crore. India is the largest producer of ginger and okra amongst vegetables. It ranks second in production of potatoes, onions, cauliflowers, brinjal, cabbages, among others. In the case of fruits, India ranks first in production of bananas (25.7 per cent), papayas (43.6 per cent) and mangoes (including mangosteens and guavas) (40.4 per cent).
While India does export to the world thanks to its state-of-the-art cold chain infrastructure and quality assurance measures, it lags woefully in respect of its domestic infrastructure for its local supply chains. Cold chain will be critical to strengthen horticulture in India. It is estimated that India’s cold storage capacity is somewhere 37 and 39 million MT. In addition, there are about 70,000 plus packhouses, around 61,000 reefer vehicles, and 9,100 ripening chambers. Meanwhile, about 298 cold chain infrastructure has been approved and 192 cold chain infrastructure will be operational by early 2020. This will also be an opportunity for entrepreneurs as India needs more efficient technologies for cold chain systems, modern pack houses, ripening chambers, bulk coolers, cold distribution hubs among other infrastructure.
According to ICRIER, other hurdles for horticulture are inter-state barriers in the movement of fruits and vegetables—waiting at check-posts leads to delay, further adding to wastage is the fragmentation of supply chain. In terms of consumption barriers, high prices and seasonality of production are hurting consumers.
During the lockdown period, the WPI vegetable inflation dropped due to a sharp correction from unusually high onion prices last fiscal. “Tomato prices too plunged through this April and May. The duo represent roughly one-quarter of the vegetable group. That said, many other vegetables too saw prices fall during the lockdown,” stated Crisil report. Meanwhile, retail vegetable inflation, after initially rising in April, has since softened as supply chains have improved.
While India achieved food security, it yet has not been able to move barriers to achieve nutritional security. In 2018, India reported 8,82,000 deaths of children below five years, the most number of deaths of children as per the United Nations Children’s Fund report. The report pointed out that malnutrition caused 69 per cent of under-five deaths in India, adding that every child in India had undernourishment in some form or other.