Arindam Chaudhuri

April 25, 2020, 11:56:02   

•The Outbreak of pandemic COVID 19 is now the reality throughout the Globe. Almost all the Countries are affected by the ferocious virus. Lakhs of casualties are already being witnessed throughout the world. In India, we are passing through very tough time to fight with the deadly virus, the economy and fiscal growth. Till February 2020, there was a sign of steep slide in GDP, Industrial and overall production sector. Long duration and excess rain in last season spoiled the crops. Tomato, Onion, leafy vegetables made the historic high price. The pulses are also showing very steep high prices. But January 2020 onwards, corrections in fiscal conditions started climbing, also International Monitory Funds (IMF) chief clarified that Indian economy's slowdown is for a very short span, but of course hampered the global economy. In fact the prediction was that, the Indian economy will bounce back shortly, due to strong agriculture and rural complex economy in the country. But all these prediction are imbalanced due to outbreak of the virus directly striking into the economy of the country.

•Now the question is how to face the situation? The country is in locked completely for last forty (40) days to fight with the deadly pandemic. The post COVID situation in terms of economic growth is going to be severe. The food habits, the health issues, Nutritional issues are going to be prioritized. In this scenario, agriculture and more precisely Post harvest processing solution and value addition will come out as influential and powerful sector in our country. Though, the sector is still unorganized and at the very nescient stage. If we study the post harvest losses, we can understand the server condition of this sector. If we compare our agricultural strengths with the other developed countries, we are blessed by the nature. Sunlight, tropical environment, wide geographical diversity, rich and wide variety of soil texture, good rainfall are some of the major natural strengths of our country. Based on last decade's agribusiness progress, we can assure that, India will be the Global Food Hub down the line in next 10 years.
•To study the opportunities in Post harvest sector, let's understand what market requires in next decade—

1. Traceability – From pre harvest to table
2. Safe food product and processing – including FSMS, Organic certifications
3. Enlarge the horizon to tap the global market – particularly for the countries depending on more than 70% import for their local food stuff.
4. The changing life style and food habits
5. Understand the food value chain concept from Farm to Fork model and study each stage/step and component.
6. Understand  India’s  special  agro  commodities  e.g  Spices,  herbs,  tropical  fruits, medicinal plants etc.
Now to explore the opportunities, we have to classify these opportunities into two broad categories—
Resource Base: i.e area specific agro commodities. For example, Northeast India- Spices (Ginger, Turmeric, Cardamom, Black peeper) Fruits (Pineapple, Lemon, Banana, Passion fruit, Kiwi, Dragon fruit) Nimach (M.P)- Coriander seeds, Unja (Rajasthan) – Cumin, Erode/Sangli
–Turmeric, Ratnagiri (Maharastra) – Alphanso mango etc.

Opportunity Base: In this category life style, nutrition value, particular component/ingredient will be the key factor. Process technology, particular ingredient, flavor formulation etc are the key factors. Functional food, Nutraceutical sector, olio resins are some of the sectors.

1.Post Harvest Handling:  Atomized Harvesting – Post Harvest transportation from farm to mandi to primary processing and then secondary processing and then to supply chain and to consumer – Opportunity lies at every stage.
Opportunities: Material handling equipment, Post harvest traceability systems, food testing sector, post harvest packaging sector, e-auction.
Huge potential for technology and Information intervention.

2.Post Harvest Storage: Beyond traditional storage systems – new technology invention and collaboration required – storage facilities with scientific base will require throughout the country especially in rural and semi urban areas.
Opportunities: Modern Silos, Dry warehouses, cold stores, tracking systems, material handling systems, labeling systems, calibration units, food and agro grid concept.
Proper scientific storage will save 10 -18% food stuffs.
3.Post Harvest Transportation: Very neglected and unorganized sector: In transportation losses are 5-8% sometimes reaches upto 10%-- road, rail water, air transportation will be main types.
Opportunities: Specially designed vehicles, refer vans, loading/unloading techniques, tracking technologies, Technology development- modified atmosphere etc.
Government policies/schemes are widely open, hence good scopes.

4.Post harvest Preservation and value addition: Preservation technologies and their applications, business models should be encouraged and supported, Dimension shift to value addition.
Opportunities: IQF, Dehydration, Juice extraction, canning, minimal processing, packaging, fortification grading and pack houses technologies and business  models, online sale, organized supply chain.
Indian product with suitable post harvest handling, value addition and transportation. Developing global Marketing network will lead to strong supply chain.
Post Harvest sector is emerging with huge potential for investment, minimizing gap between urban and rural, minimize migration, increasing the employment opportunities, increase the export and ensure the fixed and assured returns to the farmers. Value chain development will be the strong tool for empowering farmer, ensuring safe food to consumer and strong export benefits to the country and the society. Therefore focusing on the post harvest opportunities and related business models is the need of the hour in true sense.

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