India: Viable value chain for fresh fruits and vegetables?

After India’s successes in the milk sector, is it now possible to set up a cost-effective value chain for fruits and vegetables? This question is often asked as India loses crops and other food products worth ₹92,6 billion (€1.14 bln) every year. 

In this year’s budget speech, the finance minister announced Operation Green and provided a token amount of ₹5 billion for it. Establishing a horticulture value chain is tougher than for milk, but India does have success stories in potato, frozen green pea and apple. 40 years ago, green peas were available only in winters, but introduction of individually quick freezing made it possible to freeze fresh peas and store them for sale all year round.

Similarly, India has seen large investments in supply chain of apple by way of controlled atmosphere cold stores in which oxygen levels are reduced from about 21% to 2% and temperature maintained at about 0 to 1o Celsius.

According to, about 135,000 tons of controlled atmosphere cold stores have been set up. Now, apples are available almost year- round and farmers are realizing higher prices. The success of storage of potato in cold stores is well known and despite crash of prices in glut years, farmers and consumers have benefited. The supply chain of bananas is improving and farmers will realize better prices in the future.

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