Srinagar- J&K administration is in the process of establishing eleven additional cold storage facilities in Kashmir Valley, with a projected total capacity increase of 5-6 lakh metric tonnes.
An official told Kashmir Observer that these cold storage facilities coming up at the cost of Rs. 512 crore will be built over the next five years. Their purpose, he said, is to support local farmers and preserve fruits, enabling them to achieve higher profits in the market.
The budget, according to the official, has been allotted to boost agricultural and allied sectors including sheep, horticulture, animal and floriculture and sericulture sectors.
“A special budget has been allotted for the construction of controlled-atmospheric (CA) storage in the valley,” Manzoor Ahmed Mir, Deputy Director, Horticulture (Planning & Marketing) told Kashmir Observer.
The CA storage system guarantees the ideal levels of oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, as well as humidity and temperature, to extend the shelf life of perishable items significantly.
Utilizing frozen storage capabilities, a wide range of food products can be preserved for extended durations, often spanning several years.
Currently, the valley has the capacity of storing over 2.5 lakh metric tonnes of apples in the CA stores.
Earlier, the government said that the UT has recorded an eight-fold increase in CA storage since 2015-16.
The CA storage capacity has been raised from 25,000 MT in 2015-16 to 2 lakh MT in 2021-22.
The UT has over 40 cold storage facilities; besides the Industrial Growth Centre (IGC) in Lassipora industrial area Pulwama district housing an impressive count of 23 Controlled Atmosphere (CA) storage units.
17 storages are operational in various districts including Shopian, Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla, and Jammu.
Notably, during the peak season, fruit markets (madnis) witness a substantial influx of individuals seeking to sell their produce. However, a new practice has emerged. Rather than transporting apples directly from orchards to the markets, growers are opting to store their fruit in cold storage units and sell their harvest when market prices become more favorable.
When apple and other fruit seasons are at their peak, market demand tends to decrease, resulting in growers not receiving optimal prices for their labor and produce.
“The CA stores will help growers to sell their products only when the market rate is good. They will also pack the products without any rush,” Mir said.
He said the government will encourage new entrepreneurs to set up CA storage capacity and they will provide them with a subsidy in setting-up the units.
According to the government, the valley exports over 2 million tonnes of apples annually, generating Rs 12,000 crore in revenue.
Horticulture plays a vital role in the J&K economy, providing direct and indirect employment to about 23 lakh people.
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