• Government mulls 50 percent subsidy on solar powered cold storage facilities

    To facilitate farmers store their horticulture produce for longer period, the Telangana government is considering provision of 50 % subsidy on ‘solar powered cold storage’ with the help of Central government assistance under MIDH (Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture).

    According to officials, as part of its pilot project to help farmers store their horticulture produce including fruits and vegetables for selling it next day, the Horticulture Department has requested the Central government to allocate an amount of Rs 75.5 crore for 1000 units for the year 2017-18 under MIDH component special interventions in Post Harvest Management.

    Each unit will cost Rs 12 lakh. If the government assistance in the form of subsidy is available the burden will be reduced to half. “Mostly, small and marginal farmers cultivate horticulture crops in the State.

    But due to lack of facilities to store the produce and also to increase shelf life in different climatic conditions, about 30 percent of the produce is becoming stale each year.

    Because of this most of the farmers are not getting better prices, while on the other hand even the consumers failed to get fresh produce,” informed a high official of Horticulture Department.

    Telangana is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables with 6.734 lakh hectares under different horticulture crops. The total production of horticulture crops is 81.65 lakh metric tonnes.

    Of this, fruits are grown in an area of 3.235 lakh hectares and vegetables on 1.718 lakh hectares with a yield of 41.97 lakh metric tonnes and 31.95 lakh metric tonnes respectively.

    The Solar power cold storage also called as ‘Portable Solar Micro Cold Room’ has been developed by a group of young IITians of Kharagpur under the brand name ‘Ecofrost’.

    The facility which is totally operated on solar energy has a storage capacity of 5 metric tonnes capacity. The official informed that the eco-friendly model has pre-cooler as well as cold storage components with a power back up of about 30 hours.

    Interestingly, it runs without any batteries and only with the help of solar panels. “What the IITians have developed is an innovation of its own in the entire Asia, state adopts it, we would be the first in availing this kind of technology for horticulture,” added the official.

    Agriculture Minister, Pocharam Srinivas who had recently launched the Portable Solar Micro Cold Room at Center of Excellence at Jeedimetla in Hyderabad, described this latest adoption of technology by some private firms in the State as a boon for the farmers.

    The Minister felt that the anxiety levels of farmers who fear rotting of their produce can now store it for longer period and avoid panic selling. Fozzy Whittaker Jersey

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