No govt storage: horticulture farmers rue crop loss

Agriculture Business City

Post-production gap is a major infrastructure challenge in horticulture industry, leading to loss of tons of crops, officials say.

Almost 50 lakh metric tons of horticulture products are lost every year due to infrastructure gap in storage, handling and transport, authorities said. The Karnataka government has no facilities for storage of horticulture crops.

Venkatesh Krishna, Deputy Director of Fruits and Horticulture department, Karnataka said that currently there is a huge gap in post-harvest infrastructure. “Out of 250 lakh metric ton horticulture products produced, 20-25 per cent get wasted post harvest. That makes almost 50 lakh metric ton of  wasted produce,” said. Venkatesh. He added that losses are mainly due to poor storage, handling and transport.

Ramakrishna, a farmer said that the lack of storage facility affects the international market than domestic market. He said that the farmers usually harvest and immediately sell at the domestic market. “We are facing a lot of challenges in international market. We are unable to maintain the quality of the products as we are unable to maintain a cold chain – that is cold storage for both storage and transport,” he said.

 He said that farm level storage, or pre-cooling facilities are not available in Karnataka. “After harvest within three to four hours, we have to pre-cool. We don’t have any pre cooling unit in the farm level,” said Ramakrishna.

Major horticulture crops produced are plantation crops, flowers, vegetables and fruits. “Fruits and vegetables have to be stored in cold storage. When it comes to horticulture, government never constructs any cold storage. Right now, the storage facility is 100 percent private,” said an official in horticulture department.

“Out of 250 lakh metric ton horticulture products produced, 20-25 per cent get wasted post harvest,” said officials.

Dr. Mallikarjuna Swamy N, Assistant Professor, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore said, “We ought to have scientific storage facilities.” He said that proper supply chain should be in the place and transportation should be scientific, as a lot of losses are incurred during storage and transportation. “It is better to have packaged fruits and vegetables to minimize loss. More cold storage could be developed so that longevity of life could be increased,” Dr. Swamy added.

Venkatesh,said that horticulture industry in Karnataka is growing every year, and the area of production rose by 50 per cent, from one lakh hectares to two lakh hectares in past one year.. He said that currently horticulture constitutes 42 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in agriculture of the State.

The exports of horticulture products increased, from $ 2377 million in 2021-22 to $2789 million in 2022-23, according to the data from Karnataka Horticulture Department.

The fund for horticulture department is provided by both the Center and State governments. Bruhat Bengaluru MahanagaraPalike (BBMP) provides fund to the horticulture department every year for beautification of the City.