The Indian fruits and vegetables production faces multiple challenges across the value chain from the supply side to the demand side, according to a study released by EXIM Bank of India.
The study was conducted with an aim to examine the factors responsible for India's low share of in the world trade of fruits and vegetables. This is despite being the second biggest producer of fruits and vegetables.
"At production level, the major challenge is low productivity, while at post production stage, the wastage rate is very high", it said. The study noted that average productivity of most domestic fruit and vegetable crops is low compared to international standards.
There is a wide gap between existing and potential yields. This can be narrowed through improved varieties and technologies. Some areas of concern are water management, quality seed development, pest and diseases management and technology suitability for small and marginal land holdings.
While admitting that there are problems facing the Indian fruits and vegetables sector, Siraj Hussain, Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, said that India also has several success stories. "We have put up a reasonably good supply chain in grapes, apples and now bananas". But these successes have not been replicated in other fruits and vegetables, he said.
According to the study, estimated wastage in India ranges from 11 per cent in mangoes to as high as 90 per cent in tomatoes. This has resulted in low marketable surplus and low trade in the sector. Some other contributors are slow development of post-harvest technologies and their dissemination.
Total existing cold storage capacity in India is only 10.4 per cent of the total production of fruits and vegetables, it said. Of this total, 75 per cent caters to potatoes and around 24 per cent is used for meat and dairy, leaving only a miniscule capacity for fruits and vegetables.
The study stressed the need for production and post production management, international quality compliance, and marketing strategies for development of the export market. The report said that the analyses of production, productivity and major fruit and vegetable trade reveal three areas that the country needs to work on - "productivity improvement through technological interventions, reduction of wastage through efficient post-harvest management and diversification of markets through development of customized products."
TCA Ranganathan, CMD of EXIM Bank said India is not realizing its potential in the fruits and vegetables space. "We need to go five steps forward to meet all the challenges," he said.
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