Over the past few decades India has seen a steep growth in the production of perishable horticulture commodities having limited shelf life but high on nutrition value. The technological advancements and improved scientific way of farming have contributed to the growth. Even though the production has increased there are issues of inflation, wastages of fresh produce, and demand supply imbalances. The wastage is mainly due to the ineffective post-harvest management.

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The lack of refrigerated transport and adequate high quality cold storage facilities for both food producers and food sellers (retailers) has been widely cited as the primary reason for food wastage in India. According to a report by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), India currently wastes close to INR 44,000 Crores worth of food produce per annum. 

It has been analyzed that 2/3rd of this wastage happens close to the side of production. Further in spite of being the 2nd largest producer of fruits and vegetables, we stand 15th globally when it comes to export. The food processing sector is still in nascent stage in India. One of the major reasons for all this is lack of modern facilities like pack-houses, cold rooms, at the farm level to pre-cool as well as reefer transport to ensure these commodities reach the consumption point in the right condition. The inadequate cold chain infrastructures at farm level also push farmers to sell their produce at a low price in case of over supply more often than not, affecting their livelihood adversely.

Cold chain is important for increasing the shelf life, balancing the supply demand fluctuations and cutting transport bottlenecks in maintaining the quality of produce. By developing an integrated supply chain and including cold chain we can reduce the wastage of perishable horticulture commodities. Cold chain infrastructure comprises of cold storage infrastructure, transport infrastructure and point of production infrastructure. In Indiarefrigerated transport is still at its beginning phase and is way behind if compared with world standards of cargo movement.

The majority of growth has been driven by pharma and frozen foods segment as far as cold chain is concerned. Horticulture and fresh produce has occupied back seat because of primarily two reasons- (a) Fresh produce is seasonal, leading to lower ROI as compared to the perennial commodity models; (b) Lack of affordable and reliable energy to power the energy starved first mile cold chain.



29 July 2016

EcoFrost, solar powered cold storage system by EcoZen © EcoZen


Ecofrost Technologies has developed an innovative solar powered cold room system for storage of fruits, vegetables, flowers and other perishables. The solar cold room incorporates several break-through, patent pending technologies that make the product suitable for a reliable operation on the field. The innovative thermal storage technology provides backup up to 24-30 hours during non-sunlight hours. The normal battery systems have the disadvantage of high charging- discharging losses and high replacement costs.

The system is completely portable and can be shifted from one location to another with great ease. The idea behind ease of portability is to utilize the unit for different seasonal crops grown across different regions. The system also has the capability to charge itself completely with just 5-6 hours of grid power. It automatically detects critical conditions and will switch to grid and charge the system in case of poor sunlight days. Operating the system on Diesel Generator is also possible. The system also is efficient to ensure that the diesel generator operates at optimal loading condition, thereby ensuring maximum efficiency.

It has pre-cooling capability and also has staging space. It can serve as an ideal part of a pack house. The system also has a remote predictive maintenance system, which can diagnose if the system is failing and communicate the same to the service team. The service team ensures that the system is up and running before the thermal storage backup expires. The dimensions of the product is 20ft x 8ft x 8ft. The temperature can be managed between 2 degrees C to 10 degrees C, suitable for almost all the horticulture and floriculture produces plus humidity can also be controlled 80-95% inside the system. Practically, very minimal running cost is incurred as compared to its counterparts driven by electric supply.


The changing nature of cold storage logistics and expansion of value-added capabilities only raises the stakes for the looming food safety regulations. Thus, there is a clear requirement for interventions in post-harvest management at the first mile, i.e. the farm, in order to arrest the value loss. Proper post-harvest management training combined with infrastructure can boost sectoral growth and drive the economy. With the above solution, the farmers have reliable access to cold storage services in the vicinity of their farmlands, thereby enabling them to securely store their perishable produce without having to worry about power supply, price or climate uncertainties. This further enables an improvised livelihood and will minimize the food wastage by a significant proportion.

Farmers can also store their seeds and saplings during times of inclement weather. This reduces chances of crop failure and thereby predicting greater financial prosperity for farmers with improved standards of living.

Prateek Singhal is the Co-founder and Director of Ecozen Solutions Pvt Ltd, Pune.