Nagesh Prabhu

15 agricultural marketing firms have shown interest in KAPPEC’s ambitious plan to help farmers

State ranked third in country in area under horticulture and production of vegetables, fruit

Horticulture accounts for 40 per cent of total income in the State’s agricultural sector

BANGALORE: After the success of its cold storage unit set up in the grape-growing district of Bijapur, the Karnataka State Agricultural Produce Processing and Export Corporation (KAPPEC) Ltd., a government agency, plans to establish such units in all districts with the participation of the private sector.

Fifteen firms in the agricultural marketing sector have shown interest in setting up cold storages in different places. All of them have been asked to submit detailed projects reports within two weeks. KAPPEC and the private players will invest in the ratio of 49:51. KAPPEC will hold a meeting with all the interested private players to discuss the proposals and the cost involved, K.J. Devendrappa, Managing Director of KAPPEC, told The Hindu.

KAPPEC’s second cold storage unit at Kushtagi in Koppal district, which was established at a cost of Rs. 8.33 crore, became operational on March 2. The unit has packing, pre-cooling, washing, waxing and grading facilities. It has three bulk storage units of 50 tonnes, 100 tonnes and 150 tonnes and will be of immense help to pomegranate growers in the region.

In the first phase, KAPPEC has drawn up plans to set up cold storages in Hubli, Dharwad and Bagalkot and an additional unit in Bijapur. The Hubli unit will be established with the help of two private players at a cost of Rs. 10.58 crore, of which KAPPEC will invest Rs. 1.69 crore. The unit will benefit vegetable growers, Mr. Devendrappa said.

The cold storage units in Dharwad and Bagalkot will be constructed at a cost of Rs. 11.58 crore and Rs. 11.50 crore respectively. The Dharwad unit will benefit mango growers while the Bagalkot unit will benefit pomegranate and grape growers, the official said.

Since the existing cold storage unit of 65 tonne capacity is insufficient to meet the demand from grape growers in Bijapur district, one more unit will be set up in the district. Grape growers exported 180 tones of grapes last year from the district. The first unit was constructed at a cost of Rs. 2.98 crore, the official said.

State ranked third

Karnataka, which is ranked third in the country in area under horticulture and production of vegetables and fruit, has received Rs. 3 crore under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana of the Centre for creation of post-harvest infrastructure. Out of the Rs. 3 crore, Rs. 2.2 crore and Rs. 78 lakh have been released for the Kushtagi and Hubli units respectively, Mr. Devendrappa said.

Horticulture accounts for 40 per cent of total income in the State’s agricultural sector. Horticultural crops are cultivated on 16 lakh hectares, which is increasing by five per cent annually. Annual production is 96 lakh tonnes, with an increase of six per cent a year.

Marketing chains in the State are highly fragmented, often with six to eight intermediaries. Farmers tend to receive a small share of what consumers pay. The average wastage in the horticultural sector, between the farm gate and the wholesale sector, is about 30 per cent.

Farmers lack awareness about market conditions because of poor linkages in the distribution chain and have inadequate access to cold storage facilities, leading to seasonal gluts and extreme price variation. In Bangalore, for example, tomato prices range from Rs. 3 to Rs 25 a kg during the year, the official said.