Home Economy Agri-products perish before reaching consumers, admits government

Agri-products perish before reaching consumers, admits government


New Delhi : Even as the prices of fruits and vegetables soar daily, the central government has admitted large volumes of agricultural produce perish before reaching consumers because of poor preservation facilities.

A study conducted by an expert committee constituted by the agriculture ministry says the post-harvest losses of horticulture produce in the country is almost 25 to 30 percent of the total production.

“Losses of horticulture produce is due to the lack of adequate post-harvest infrastructure facilities,” Minister of State for Agriculture K.V. Thomas admitted in the Rajya Sabha recently.

“With a view to minimise wastage, the government is implementing three schemes in the country,” the minister had said.

The schemes have been drawn up by three agencies – the National Horticulture Board (NHB) for development of commercial horticulture through production and harvest management; the Technology Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture in the North-Eastern states, Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarkhand (TMNE), and the National Horticulture Mission (NHM) for the remaining states.

“Under these schemes, financial assistance is provided for setting up of cold storages, collection centres, package houses, refrigerated vans and mobile pressing units,” Thomas had said.

The alarming revelation comes in the wake of absence of rains that has hit the production of vegetables and fruits across the country.

The national capital, for example, depends on neighbouring states like Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab for supplies of vegetables and fruits. But the crops have been hit by the lack of rains, leading to reduced inflow of vegetables and fruits and subsequently, prices touching new heights.

Prices of tomato is Rs.30 a kilogram in the government-controlled market in Delhi, while that of potato is Rs.19, and ladies finger Rs.30. Prices of apple and mango have soared up to Rs.120 and Rs.90 a kilogram respectively.

The government had said in parliament last week that the rise in food prices was primarily due to higher remuneration to farmers, a fall in production of some crops and a seasonal rise in demand.

The opposition and the supporting parties of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had disrupted proceedings in parliament a number of times over the price hike issue.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, while replying to a detailed discussion on price rise in the Lok Sabha, said the government would hold a chief ministers’ meeting Aug 17 to discuss the rising prices of essential commodities.