Due to lack of adequate storage infrastructure, fruits, grains and vegetables worth Rs 44,000 crore go waste every year, Food Processing Industries Minister Sharad Pawar informed Rajya Sabha on Friday.
Pawar said during Question Hour that the value of annual wastage of fruits and vegetables was estimated at Rs 13,309 crore. However, if the wastage value of rice, wheat, cereals and others are taken into account, it would go up to Rs 44,000 crore a year. He said government has already initiated various steps to encourage creation of additional storage capacity and complimented certain states, without naming them, for showing "lot of interests".
Pawar said the Saumitra Chaudhuri Committee, constituted by the Planning Commission in 2012, has indicated 61.3 million tonnes of coal storage requirement in the country against the present capacity of around 29 million tonnes. "The present gap is around 32 million tonnes," Pawar said.
Government provides financial assistance in the form of grant-in-aid at the rate of 50 per cent of the total cost of plant and machinery and technical civil works in general areas and at the rate of 75 per cent in difficult areas, including northeastern states, for creation of cold chain infrastructure. The ceiling is, however, at Rs 10 crore. Pawar said investment of FDI in retail was expected to help in developing back-end cold storage infrastructure.
However, efforts of the government to develop such infrastructure through its various programmes would continue.