1. Agriculture World

J&K Govt Increases Cold Storage Capacity by 700% in 6 years

The government has taken several concrete steps to increase agriculture and horticulture production, as well as to improve crop quality, with a special emphasis on post-harvesting management infrastructure, particularly in the private sector.

Shivam Dwivedi
Cold Storage Facility
Cold Storage Facility

The Jammu and Kashmir government has encouraged and aided private players to set up cold storage (CA) facilities in order to reduce postharvest losses by increasing the shelf life of various agriculture and horticulture products, as well as to address the issue of distressed crop sales by farmers.

Over the last two years, an enabling environment has been created for transforming J&K agriculture and allied sectors in order to increase farmer income, ensure food security, and accelerate UT's economic growth.

The government has taken several concrete steps to increase agriculture and horticulture production, as well as to improve crop quality, with a special emphasis on post-harvesting management infrastructure, particularly in the private sector.

Apples kept in cold storage in Kashmir help farmers get much better prices by selling their production as they see fit based on demand.

While elaborating on the initiative, Senior Horticulture Officer informed that a 10-kilogram box of stored apples has been sold at a minimum of Rs 1,000 and at the highest price of Rs 1,800 depending on the quality and colour of the apple.

According to apple growers and traders, these rates are significantly higher than the rates apples receive during the harvesting season. The cold storages in Lassipora Pulwama, Aglar Shopian, and a few other areas in north Kashmir can hold approximately 2.5 lakh metric tonnes of apples.

He stated that the government-aided cold stores would aid in obtaining higher prices for the A-grade apples produced in Kashmir, which totalled approximately 8 lakh metric tonnes. Previously, due to a lack of CA stores in the valley, these apples were sold for less than their actual value.

These cold stores are critical to meeting the high density A Grade apple production begun by the Horticulture Department Kashmir a large scale.

Aijaz Ahmed Bhat, Director-General Horticulture, Kashmir, stated that the department is committed to improving the valley's post-harvest infrastructure. We are looking into every possible opportunity to develop infrastructure such as CA stores, Processing Units, and related utilities throughout the Valley in order to provide the best services to orchardists, he added.

At the moment, we are encouraging new entrepreneurs to set up CA storage capacity with government assistance in order to meet annual production, which would otherwise result in distressed sales, he said.

DG also stated that improved post-harvest infrastructure, such as CA stores, will help keep the Kashmiri apple in the market all year, and farmers will receive good returns for their produce.

According to available data, Kashmir produces 20 lakh metric tonnes of apples each year. The Lieutenant Governor's administration is working tirelessly to assist farmers with subsidies, technology, machinery, and post-harvest setup to ensure that farmers in Kashmir get better rates for their products and are not forced to sell their produce at a relatively lower price due to fear of the fruit rotting. The Horticulture Department provides a 50% subsidy to entrepreneurs interested in opening CA stores.

To preserve edible items for longer periods of time, the CA storage system ensures an optimal supply of oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, humidity, and temperature.

According to the Director-General Horticulture, these efforts have resulted in a 700% increase in CA storage capacity from 25000 MT in 2015-16 to 2.00 Lakh MT in 2021-22, which is expected to be increased by another 25000 MT in the coming year. CA store establishment has resulted in a significant reduction in distress sales, resulting in higher returns for orchardists.

There are 40 CA stores in Jammu and Kashmir, with the Industrial Growth Centre (IGC) in Lassipora, south Kashmir's Pulwama, alone housing 23 CA stores. In addition, 17 stores are open in various districts, including Shopian, Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla, and Jammu.

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