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Cold Storage
 
Introduction India is the largest producer of fruits and second largest producer of vegetables in the world. In spite of that per capita availability of fruits and vegetables is quite low because of post harvest losses, which account for about 25% to 30% of production. Besides, quality of a sizable quantity of produce also deteriorates by the time it reaches the consumer. This is mainly because of perishable nature of the produce, which requires a cold chain arrangement to maintain the quality and extend the shelf life if consumption is not meant immediately after harvest. In the absence of a cold storage and related cold chain facilities, the farmers are being forced to sell their produce immediately after harvest which results in glut situations and low price realisation.
Status of cold storage & its potential in India The estimated annual production of fruits and vegetables in the country is about 130 million tonnes. This accounts for 18% of our agricultural output. Due to diverse agro climatic conditions and better availability of package of practices, the production is gradually rising. Although, there is a vast scope for increasing the production, the lack of cold storage and cold chain facilities are becoming major bottlenecks in tapping the potential. The cold storage facilities now available are mostly for a single commodity like potato, orange, apple, grapes, pomegranates, flowers, etc. which results in poor capacity utilisation.
Storage of foods & storage conditions Foods and many other commodities can be preserved by storage at low temperature, which retards the activities of micro organisms. Micro organisms are the spoilage agents and consist of bacteria, yeasts and molds. Low temperature does not destroy those spoilage agents as does high temperature, but greatly reduces their activities, providing a practical way of preserving perishable foods in their natural state which otherwise is not possible through heating. The low temperature necessary for preservation depends on the storage time required
often referred to as short or long term shortage and the type of product.
Economic size of unit & land requirements
Cold storage units can be used to store either a single commodity or multiple commodities. Depending upon the entrepreneur's financial health; it can be planned to store the produce entirely owned by him or on rental basis or in combination of the two. NABARD usually encourages cold storages where 70% of the capacity is available to farmers for storage on rentals. Financial viability of a unit depends upon the intended pattern of use and rental rate prevalent in an area. However, units entirely to be used by the owners are also considered for sanction. Considering 70:30 utilisation of the capacity for rentals and own use, a 5000 MT capacity unit is considered as.
Technology A cold storage unit incorporates a refrigeration system to maintain the desired room environment for the commodities to be stored. A refrigeration system works on two principles:
Vapour absorption system (VAS), and
Vapour compression system (VCS)
VAS, although comparatively costlier, is quite economical in operation and adequately compensates the higher initial investment.
VCS is comparatively cheaper than VAS. There are three types of VCS systems available depending upon the cooling arrangements in the storage rooms i.e., diffuser type, bunker type and fin coil type. Diffuser type is comparatively costlier and is selected only when the storage room heights are low.
 
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Cold Storage