HAC Agri, a Lahore company, has invested multi-million dollars on the construction of a 21-acre state of the art controlled atmosphere (CA) cold storage near Lahore, to keep selected fruits and vegetables fresh for 60 to 90 days. The store, which has commenced its operations, was expecting the first lot of pomegranates in a couple of months. This would ensure availability of off-season fruits and vegetables by increasing their shelf life.
In Phase I, the store has a capacity of 3,000 tonnes, spread over 20 CA rooms each with a capacity of 150 tonnes. Phase II and III would add another 3,000 tonnes each, for a total capacity of 9,000 tonnes.
The establishment of this facility would play a pivotal role in launching a trend of modern technological production in the country and boost economic activity. A controlled atmosphere store was established in Karachi some years back, but was shut down seven years ago.
Karandaaz that gets financial and institutional support from DFID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was the provider of technical assistance in this project. Karandaaz Chief Investment Officer (CIO) Navid Goraya told The News they were significant minority shareholders. According to the business model, HAC Agri would directly purchase the fruits and vegetables from the farm, removing the role of the middle-men, which would not only benefit the company, but also the farmer.
Waheed Ahmed, patron-in-chief, Pakistan Fruits and Vegetables Importers, Exporters and Merchants Association said they welcome the investment in the new state of the art cold storage house. However, “In order to grow the sector, the country needs a complete cool chain from farm to market, to airport and to seaport,” he said.
He said there were hardly one percent cold storages in the country, and around five percent storages were against the requirement. There were few cold storages at the Fruits and Vegetables Market in Karachi, while other markets in the country had no cold storages.