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40 lakh tonnes of onion wasted every year in India

Of the total production of 190 lakh tonnes of onion, only 80% reaches the end users, while the remaining 20% is wasted annually.

Shailendra Tyagi  New Delhi | 12th Sep 2015

Police stop NCP women protesting against price hike on onions, outside Mantralay in Mumbai on 24 August. PTI

bout 40 lakh tonnes of onion are wasted every year in India for want of proper storage facilities. Santosh Sarangi, joint secretary, Ministry of Commerce said that of the total production of 190 lakh tonnes of onion, only 80% reaches the end users, while the remaining 20% is wasted annually. Speaking at the national seminar organised by PHD chamber of commerce on promotion of agriculture and horticulture exports from India, Sarangi underlined the need for creating a supply chain infrastructure in the country. He sought private and public investment for creating such facilities.

As per the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), India loses over Rs 55,000 crore worth of fruit and vegetables due to inadequate cold storages and an unsuitable supply chain infrastructure including inadequate food processing facilities in the agricultural sector.

Such perennial wastages not only inflate the prices of these food commodities in the domestic market but also leave little for exports. Despite being the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world, only about 3% of fresh fruits and vegetables produced in India are stored in the controlled temperature facilities as against 80% in leading economies. Poor storage facilities also affect India's export performance.

India's cold chain industry remains fragmented for want of organised players. As per the National Centre for Cold Chain Development (NCCD), the total value of the cold chain industry in India is expected to reach US$13 billion by 2017 through increase in investments, modernisation of existing facilities and establishment of new ventures via private and government partnerships. Foreign direct investment in the retail sector was expected to bring in the needed investment from both domestic and foreign organised players. Analysts say that the government's restrictive FDI policy in retail has shovelled away the expected investment from organised retail players. India's traditional retailers do not have the required wherewithal to create the required cold logistics. India's cold chain system has only about 5,000 cold storages with mostly outdated systems and equipment. Moreover, most of the warehouses remain single-commodity based. Organised players comprise only 8-10% of the cold chain industry market which is not expected to improve unless the government allows more foreign investment in the sector.

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