A 2011 report by a UN body, FAO, puts wastage in fruits and vegetables as high as 45% of produce (post-harvest to distribution) for developing Asian countries like India. Role of government in India is crucial for the Agri supply chain ecosystem to minimise these losses effectively.
Storage is an important marketing function, which involves holding and preserving goods from the time they are produced until they are needed for consumption.
- The storage of goods, therefore, from the time of production to the time of consumption, ensures a continuous flow of goods in the market.
- Storage protects the quality of perishable and semi-perishable products from deterioration;
- Some of the goods e.g., woollen garments, have a seasonal demand. To cope with this demand, production on a continuous basis and storage become necessary;
- It helps in the stabilization of prices by adjusting demand and supply;
- Storage is necessary for some period for performance of other marketing functions.
- Storage provides employment and income through price advantages.
1. Underground Storage Structures
Underground storage structures are dugout structures similar to a well with sides plastered with cow dung. They may also be lined with stones or sand and cement. They may be circular or rectangular in shape. The capacity varies with the size of the structure.
- Underground storage structures are safer from threats from various external sources of damage, such as theft, rain or wind.
- The underground storage space can temporarily be utilized for some other purposes with minor adjustments; and
- The underground storage structures are easier to fill up owing to the factor of gravity.
2. Surface storage structures
Food grains in a ground surface structure can be stored in two ways – bag storage or bulk storage.
- Each bag contains a definite quantity, which can be bought, sold or dispatched without difficulty;
- Bags are easier to load or unload.
- It is easier to keep separate lots with identification marks on the bags.
- The bags which are identified as infested on inspection can be removed and treated easily; and
- The problem of the sweating of grains does not arise because the surface of the bag is exposed to the atmospheres.
Bulk or loose storage
- The exposed peripheral surface area per unit weight of grain is less. Consequently, the danger of damage from external sources is reduced; and
- Pest infestation is less because of almost airtight conditions in the deeper layers.
- The government of India has made efforts to promote improved storage facilities at the farm level.
3. Improved grain storage structures
For small-scale storage
PAU bin – This is a galvanized metal iron structure. It s capacity ranges from 1.5 to 15 quintals. Designed by Punjab Agricultural University.
Pusa bin – This is a storage structure is made of mud or bricks with a polythene film embedded within the walls.
Hapur Tekka – It is a cylindrical rubberised cloth structure supported by bamboo poles on a metal tube base, and has a small hole in the bottom through which grain can be removed.
For large scale storage
CAP Storage (Cover and Plinth) – It involves the construction of brick pillars to a height of 14″ from the ground, with grooves into which wooden crates are fixed for the stacking of bags of food grains. The structure can be fabricated in less than 3 weeks. It is an economical way of storage on a large scale.
Silos – In these structures, the grains in bulk are unloaded on the conveyor belts and, through mechanical operations, are carried to the storage structure. The storage capacity of each of these silos is around 25,000 tonnes.
Warehouses are scientific storage structures especially constructed for the protection of the quantity and quality of stored products.
Importance of Warehousing
1. Scientific storage: The product is protected against quantitative and qualitative losses by the use of such methods of preservation as are necessary.
2. Financing: Warehouses meet the financial needs of the person who stores the product. Nationalized banks advance credit on the security of the warehouse receipt issued for the stored products to the extent of 75 to 80% of their value.
3. Price Stabilization: Warehouses help in price stabilization of agricultural commodities by checking the tendency to making post-harvest sales among the farmers.
4. Market Intelligence: Warehouses also offer the facility of market information to persons who hold their produce in them.
Working of Warehouses
- Acts: – The warehouses (CWC and SWCs) work under the respective Warehousing Acts passed by the Central or State Govt.
- Eligibility: – Any person may store notified commodities in a warehouse on agreeing to pay the specified charges.
- Warehouse Receipt (Warrant): – This is receipt/warrant issued by the warehouse manager/owner to the person storing his produce with them. This receipt mentions the name and location of the warehouse, the date of issue, a description of the commodities, including the grade, weight and approximate value of the produce based on the present prices.
- Use of Chemicals: – The produce accepted at the warehouse is preserved scientifically and protected against rodents, insects and pests and other infestations. Periodical dusting and fumigation are done at the cost of the warehouse in order to preserve the goods.
- Financing – The warehouse receipt serves as a collateral security for the purpose of getting credit.
- Delivery of produce: – The warehouse receipt has to be surrendered to the warehouse owner before the withdrawal of the goods. The holder may take delivery of a part of the total produce stored after paying the storage charges.
Types of warehouse
On the basis of Ownership
- Private warehouses: These are owned by individuals, large business houses or wholesalers for the storage of their own stocks. They also store the products of others.
- Public warehouses: These are the warehouses, which are owned by the govt. and are meant for the storage of goods.
- Bonded warehouses: These warehouses are specially constructed at a seaport or an airport and accept imported goods for storage till the payment of customs by the importer of goods. These warehouses are licensed by the govt. for this purpose. The goods stored in this warehouse are bonded goods.
Following services are rendered by bonded warehouses:
- The importer of goods is saved from the botheration of paying customs duty all at one time because he can take delivery of the goods in parts.
- The operation necessary for the maintenance of the quality of goods – spraying and dusting, are done regularly.
- Entrepot trade (re-export of imported goods) becomes possible.
On the basis of Type of Commodities Stored
- General Warehouses: These are ordinary warehouses used for storage of most of food grains, fertilizers, etc.
- Special Commodity Warehouses: These are warehouses, which are specially constructed for the storage of specific commodities like cotton, tobacco, wool and petroleum products.
- Refrigerated Warehouses: These are warehouses in which temperature is maintained as per requirements and are meant for such perishable commodities as vegetables, fruits, fish, eggs and meat.
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. Most of the problems relating to the marketing of fruits and vegetables can be traced to their perishability. Perishability is responsible for high marketing costs, market gluts, price fluctuations and other similar problems. At low temperature, perishability is considerably reduced and the shelf life is increased and thus the importance of cold storage or refrigeration.
The first cold store in India was reported to have been established in Calcutta in 1892. However significant progress in the expansion of the cold storage industry in the country has been made only after independence. With a view to ensuring the observance of proper conditions in the cold stores and to providing for development of the industry in a scientific manner, the govt of India and the ministry of agriculture promulgated an order known as “Cold Storage Order, 1964” under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act,1955. The Agricultural Marketing Advisor to the Govt of India is the Licensing Officer.A cold storage facility accessible to them will go a long way in removing the risk of distress sale to ensure better returns.
Status of Cold storage and 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 utilization.
Storage of foods and Storage Conditions
Foods and many other commodities can be preserved by storage at low temperature, which retards the activities of microorganisms. Microorganisms are the spoilage agents and consist of bacteria, yeasts and moulds. 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.
In general, there are three groups of products:
- Foods that are alive at the time of storage, distribution and sale e.g. fruits and vegetables,
- Foods that are no longer alive and have been processed in some form e.g. meat and fish products, and
- Commodities that benefit from storage at controlled temperature e.g. beer, tobacco, khandsari, etc.
Living foods such as fruits and vegetables have some natural protection against the activities of microorganism. The best method of preserving these items is to keep the product alive and at the same time retard the natural enzyme activity which will retard the rate of ripening or maturity.
Preservation of non-living foods is more difficult since they are susceptible to spoilage. The problem is to preserve dead tissues from decay and putrefaction. Long term storage of meat and fish product can only be achieved by freezing and then by storing it at temperature below -150C. Only certain fruits and vegetables can benefit from freezing. However, for fruits and vegetables one should be very careful about the recommended storage temperature and humidity a deviation from which will have adverse effect on the stored product leading to even loss of the entire commodity.
Products such as apples, tomatoes, oranges, etc. cannot be frozen and close control of temperature is necessary for long term storage. Some product can also be benefited by storing under controlled atmosphere and modified atmosphere conditions. Dairy products are produced from animal fats. They suffer from the oxidation and breakdown of their fats, causing rancidity. Packaging to exclude air and hence Oxygen can extend storage life of such foodstuffs.
Marketing of agricultural produce:
The exponential growth in the country’s food grain production from 51 million tonnes in 1950–51 to about 252 million tonnes in 2014–15 has not translated into higher incomes and poverty reduction for the farmers. The prime reasons explaining this situation are the fragmented marketing ecosystem and the dominance of intermediaries in the supply chain of agricultural produce.
The Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) markets in India, the primary market infrastructure, are present only in 23 states and five Union Territories in India. The norm of the National Commission on Farmers that there should be at least one regulated market within a radius of 5 kms is also not being fulfilled.
Although, theoretically, the APMCs are run by the state governments, the business in these markets actually has been hijacked and cartelised by the traders and commission agents operating in these markets. The APMC Act restricts the farmer from selling his produce outside the market and mandates that the sale happens only through the commissioned agents.
The electronic National Agricultural Market (e-NAM) has been launched to provide a national unified platform, a single national market also allowing interstate trading of agricultural produce, which ensures transparent price discovery and elimination of middlemen so as to enable the farmer to get the right price. However, this initiative has proven to be a non-starter.
Markets and marketing are naturally the territory of the private sector. There is an urgent need for the governments to understand this and open up this domain to the private sector. Of course, this comes with some qualifications. This measure is intended for the farmers. Hence, the private players cannot overshadow the farmers’ interest. To this extent, government regulations are reasonable.
The first step is to give farmers and consumers the freedom to organise themselves as markets. The natural profit maximising outcome of this will be the launch of online markets by private players as such markets will ensure the desired price discovery. The role of the government here is to act against the resistance towards this move. Also, the government needs to design an adequate framework governing such markets to help them achieve competition, fair bidding, transparent price discovery and ethical market practices.
Thriving private markets will enable the development of a robust marketing supply chain since well-functioning markets imply profits and growth of the sector. The profits of those operating in the agricultural supply chain are interlinked. After all, only after the produce is sold to the end-consumer at a profit will each of those in the chain make profit. Hence, incubating each of the components in the supply chain in isolation may not make much sense. This will involve heavy investments. Yet, the profits to be made in such a venture is quite appreciable. Entities such as Star Agri, SV Agri, Cold Star Logistics are some such ventures. The government needs to create an environment conducive for such investments so that more players enter this domain.
An important input for the farmers is information, be it about inputs or outputs. A lot of enterprises are currently focused on providing information about inputs. But output related information need not always come from the online markets. The government can undertake information dissemination of price of agricultural produce on its own and encourage the same as a viable business opportunity for the private sector which can tackle the information asymmetry facing the farmers.
There is a need to empower the farmers to move beyond being a producer to becoming an agripreneur who understands agricultural marketing and beyond. An action plan needs to be drawn up to achieve this objective keeping in mind the poorest farmer. The most vulnerable farmer must gain access to and understand the dynamics of the export markets as well.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is used as an overarching term incorporating all modes of transmission like electronic devices, networks, mobiles, services and applications which help to disseminate information with the help of technology. In the recent years, ICT has proved to be extremely beneficial for farmers including small land holders, marginalized and poor farmers, and helped them in marketing, precision farming and improved profits. Through ICT, farmers have been empowered to exchange their opinions, experiences and ideas. It has given farmers more exposure and allowed them to use science that looks at agriculture from an integrated perspective. Also, e-Agriculture is one of the action lines identified in the declaration and plan of action of the World Summit on the Information Society. Eagriculture has the potential to put India on the higher pedestal of ’Second Green Revolution’ by making Indian agricultural sector self-sufficient.
Availability of timely information and technology has proved very crucial in areas like disease prevalence and drought management thereby helping the farmers not only in avoiding crop loss but also thwarting economic loss, this raised the demand of planning and making strategies that could equip farmers with various information rights from sowing seeds to harvesting. And, ICT has now become a reliable instrument for improving the quantity and quality of the agricultural production. The efforts of the Government in the area of ICT have escalated the living standard of Indian farmers and made them ICT-friendly, which has resulted in increased penetration of useful information about crops, soils, climate and cultivation processes. Several measures have been taken for encouraging Indian farmers to be more ICT – friendly, which include echoupal, e – krishi , e-aid and many more. And, numerous mobile applications have also been launched by the Government of India for the same including Mandi trades, Mpower social, Kisan suvidha, Crop insurance, Agri market and m – Kisan application. The need of marketing agricultural produce at competitive prices will change the farmers’ attitude towards ICT. And, thus this new technology will help and contribute more in sustaining the Indian agriculture. ADVANTAGES OF ICT IN AGRICULTURE u Some of the advantages of Information and Communication technologies in agriculture are as follows: u It will initiate new agricultural and rural business like e – commerce, realty business for satellite offices, rural business, and virtual corporation of small – scale farms. u It will support political and analysis on optimum farm production, disaster management, agroenvironmental resource management etc., exploitation tools like geographic Information systems (GIS). u It will improve farm management and farming technologies by economical farm management, risk management, effective data or data transfer etc., realizing competitive and property farming with safe product. As an example, farmer has got to create essential choices like what to plant? Once to plant? A way to manage pests? Whereas considering off-farm factors like environmental impacts, market access, and trade standards. ITbased call web will certainly facilitate their choices. u It will give systems and tools to secure food traceability and dependableness that has been a rising issue regarding farm product since serious contamination like chicken contagious disease was detected. u It will facilitate rural activities and supply softer and safe rural life with equivalent services to those within the urban areas, like provision of distance education, telemedicine, remote public services, remote diversion etc. u Empowerment of Stakeholders (Government officers, Research, Education & Extension Scientists, farmers and different service suppliers like Community data centers. u Development of information Management, call Support and consolatory Systems to strengthen Extension services and additionally used for Farmers Redressal system. u Effic i e n t ma n a g eme n t (De v e l o pme n t, Conservation, allocation and utilization) of resources. u Improved productivity and profit of farmers through higher consultatory systems
APPLICATION OF ICT IN AGRICULTURE
Digitization of Land Records Maintenance of land records and the availability of easily accessible land information is one of the most important issues facing governance today. “Land Records” itself is a generic expression and can include records such as, the register of lands, Records of Rights (RoRs), tenancy and crop inspection register, mutation register, disputed cases register, etc. It can also include geological information regarding the shape, size, soiltype of the land; and economic information related to irrigation and crops. Thus, the Computerization of Land Records (CLR) is necessary with a view to:
Ensure efficient, accurate, transparent delivery mechanism and conflict resolution in ownership
Provide electronic record of rights (ROR) to land owners at nominal rates u Information empowerment of land owners
Low cost and easily reproducible data for reliable and durable preservation
Value addition and modernization in land administration u Integration with other data sets towards comprehensive LIS Some of the initiatives in various states include, Rajasthan: Apna Khata; Chhattisgarh: Bhuiyan; Ha r y a n a : J ama b a n d i; Hima c h a l Pr a d e s h : HimBhoomi; Karnataka: Bhoomi; Kerala; Madhya Pradesh; Odisha: Bhulekh; Uttar Pradesh; Uttarakhand: Dev Bhoomi and West Bengal: Banglar Bhumi. Agricultural Commodity Trading The Government of India in 2003-04 had initiated major steps towards introduction of futures trading in commodities, which included removal of prohibition on futures trading in all the commodities by issue of a notification and setting up of the National Level Commodity Exchanges, such as National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange Limited (NCDEX), Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited, National Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited (NMCE). Information Dissemination m – Kisan – SMS Based Farm: m – Kisan, a farmer can get a preferred advisory on his mobile through SMS. Experts can register and send advisory messages to farmers at www.mkisan.gov.in. The messages are sent in the local language. Kisan Call Centres (KCC): To harness the potential of ICT in Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture took a new initiative by launching the scheme “Kisan Call Centres (KCCs)” on January 21, 2004 aimed at answering farmers queries on a telephone call in farmers own dialect. These call Centres are working in 14 different locations covering all the States and UTs. This Scheme provides agriculture related information to the farming community through toll free telephone lines. Acountrywide common eleven digit number has been allotted for Kisan Call Centre. The number is accessible through all mobile phones and landlines of all telecom networks including private service providers. Replies to the farmers’ queries are given in 22 local languages ICT – National Round Table Conference 4 ICFA Farm Advisory through Mobiles – Green SIM: This programme is implemented by IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Limited (IKSL). The features of IKSLservices include delivering up to four free voice messages on areas of interest, and have a helpline services managed by experts and organize phone-in programmes and mobile-based quizzes. rmers’ queries are given in 22 local languages. IKSL is covering 19 states and 108 zones in those states and have a subscriber base of 11 lakh. IKSL provides messages through both push- and pull-based approach. The messages are delivered daily in regional languages and have content in 16 different categories which includes Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry, Floriculture, Poultry, Irrigation, Fertilizers, Insurance, Banking, Rural Health, Government Schemes, Market Prices, Sericulture, Employment Opportunities, Human Health and CoOperatives. To increase the access of information, IKSL have an online portal (voice, text and images) which can be accessed by anyone anytime and even on a mobile app. Users can customize the app as per their needs and receive information in the preferred language. i – Kisan:ANagarjuna Group initiative, Ikisan.com is a comprehensive Agri Portal addressing the Information, Knowledge and Business requirements of various players in the Agri arena viz., Farmers, Trade channel partners and Agri Input / Output companies. Leveraging Information Technology and extensive field presence, i – kisan is positioned as an Information/Knowledge exchange and an eMarketplace. eSagu IT Based Personalized Agro Advisory System: e-Sagu is a web-based personalized agroadvisory system, which uses Information Technology (digital photo based) to help farmers adopt better/scientific management practices in agriculture. In eSagu, rather than visiting the crop in person, the agricultural expert delivers the expert advice at regular intervals (once in one or two weeks) to each farm by getting the crop status in the form of digital photographs and other information. Facebook forFarmers and Extension Workers:The social media platform such as Facebook is being effectively used in Kerala for reaching out to farmers and extension workers. Based on the success of using Facebook by the Vattamkulam Krishi Bhavan (Malappuram District, Kerala), the Government of Kerala has decided to officially include Facebook as an important tool to strengthen the extension activities of the Department of Agriculture. The state agriculture department has urged all the officials under it to extend the activities of the department through the social media to enhance the productivity and profitability of farming. All the farmers registered with the department will have to maintain a social media account to be in touch with the local Krishi Bhavan. The government has mandated that all agricultural officers should have active Facebook accounts. ICT – National Round Table Conference 5 ICFA asyaSree – a One Stop Telugu portal for Information Dissemination: “SasyaSree – a One Stop Telugu portal for Information Dissemination” was initiated based on the identified need of having locally specific, demand driven knowledge solutions in local language through a web portal. The project caters to eight districts in Andhra Pradesh by documenting the best crop management practices, information related to Government schemes, market price and other information needs of the farming community in local language by means of video, audio, photographs etc. The project also tries to integrate with other public extension initiatives and provide information on other allied sectors such as animal husbandry, poultry etc.
India has at least two decade long experience of using ICT in agriculture. ICTs have gone through different stages and many of these will continue to evolve in response to changing technology and business environment in agriculture as well as in response to emerging challenges in agriculture. Lot of evolution has happened in this sector, the costs of accessing information through ICTs have come down, access have generally improved and many initiatives are combining text, images, audio and video. There is an increasing shift from stand-alone ICT initiatives to much more integrated ICT initiative that basically works across the value chain. ICT can play critical role in strengthening the capacities of not only farmers but also for the field level functionaries and intermediaries. Developing the right or relevant content at the appropriate level has always been a challenge and more efforts are needed in this direction. Content development is not a one-time process and it needs a continuous approach. There is a need to explore the possibility of mandating district level organizations like Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) in developing locally relevant content. Policy relevant research is needed to bridge this gap between practice and policy, including evaluation of impact of ICTs in agriculture. As there is no platform to share this data and analysis on a continuous basis, these are not available for analysts and policy makers to make informed decisions. Thus, there is a need to design a platform where all the players in the ICT in agriculture sector are willing to share and use data and experience, so that people can collectively learn while the initiatives are in progress and continuously innovate.