By Prabhudatta Mishra
Jharkhand government has decided to set up one small cold store of 30-tonne capacity each, in every block, which can potentially help farmers save costs by preventing rotting of fresh vegetables. However, the success of the plan depends on uninterrupted power supply.
“We will cover all the blocks, but priority will be given where mainly vegetables are grown,” chief minister Raghubar Das told FE in an interview.
Since the government cannot manage it, the day-to-day maintenance task to run the store will be given to the local primary agriculture cooperative society (PACS), he added. The state has already set up 46 such cold stores after the Rs 32.76 crore scheme was approved in July this year.
“Our target is to build 100 stores this year (2018-19) and the remaining in the next phase,” said Das. This will help the small farmers who will be able to keep their unsold vegetables near their village, the chief minister said. Jharkhand has 262 blocks and the state needs to spend about Rs 70 crore to build these cold stores, officials said.
Asked about uninterrupted power supply required to run these cold stores, Das said that the state plans to make 24X7 power available in the rural areas by August 2019.
“We will start separate feeder for agriculture next year that will help to provide power. Our target is to make 24X7 power available in the rural areas by August 2019,” he said at the Global Agriculture and Food Summit, organised by the state with FICCI, in Ranchi last week. He added the state government has been working on providing electricity to each village.
According to study by Ludhiana-based Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering & Technology (CIPHET), the post- harvest losses in seven vegetables, namely cabbage, cauliflower, green pea, mushroom, onion, potato and tomato, range in 7-12%. Glut in the market is a major problem of losses in all vegetables, the study found. Though it did not take into account leafy vegetables, an earlier study of the CIPHET had found post-harvest loss is as high as 52% in spinach.
India’s vegetable production is estimated to have increased to 179.7 million tonne in 2017-18 from 178.2 million tonne in 2016-17.
The chief minister also said that the state was planning to send 100 farmers each to Philippines and China next year. Already, 52 farmers have returned from Israel after a week-long tour. Farmers are very excited as they studied modern technology and how crops are grown by utilising less water while yielding higher returns.
“We want our farmers to adopt new technologies in agriculture. These farmers, after their return from Israel, are influencing others to adopt new techniques of farming.” He also said the government would set up an agency to facilitate exports of vegetables from the state.
“Jharkhand is known for growing vegetables like cauliflower, jackfruit, okra and others round the year. We are encouraging farmers to grow organic vegetables since these products have good demand in Dubai and other places in the middle-east and Europe. We will train our farmers to grow those vegetables which have demand in export market,” he said.
Asked about whether farmers were receiving MSPs for their crops, he said, “MSP is not an issue here. There are very limited production of oilseeds and pulses. We will also write to Centre to start procurement once infrastructure is ready.”
Das said the focus is to increase income of farmers by helping them take on dairy, poultry, fishery production as additional sources of income.
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Source: Financial Express