On lines of Florida orange, California apple; seeks integrated cold chain

To create strong global brand equity for bananas grown in Tamil Nadu and export them to other countries, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has urged the State Government to set up integrated cold chain facilities in six different zones.

B. Thiagarajan, CII co-chairman of Agri & Food Processing Sub-Committee, told reporters on Monday that though Tamil Nadu produced 25 per cent of the country’s bananas, not even a small percentage was sent to other States. It was either consumed in the State itself or wasted. The State could save up to Rs. 6,000 crore annually by setting up cold chain facilities.

“Several varieties of bananas are grown in Tamil Nadu, but this is not known outside the State. We would like to popularise it on the lines of Florida orange and California apple, so that it would be known throughout the world. In the first place, it calls for discussions with the growers, who solely depend on commission agents for their livelihood and advice. We had the first round of talks with growers in Coimbatore and next will be in Theni on August 11,” he said.

Noting that the country lost nearly Rs. 75,000 crore to Rs. 1,00,000 crore in fruits and vegetables every year, he said India did not have the systems to extend the life of fruits and vegetables and processes in place to preserve them like other countries.

Hence, CII has proposed setting up of six modules in six different zones — Erode, Coimbatore, Tuticorin, Theni-Madurai, Tiruchi and Tiruvannamalai-Vellore — by private entrepreneurs, commission agents or in public-private-partnership mode.

Each module should ideally have one central pack house with 400 tonnes capacity and at least three multiple collection centres.

“The ultimate benefit will be reduction in waste or increase in saleable product due to reduction in loss of produce by 15 per cent, mainly due to better storage and handling. There will be an increase in overall price realisation of 10 per cent mainly due to better quality of produce and increase in price for premium segmentation due to grading and packaging,” he said.

As a step in this direction, the CII, in association with the State government, farmers, traders, equipment manufacturers, commission agents and investors will hold an annual banana festival in the city — convention on December 21 and exhibition on December 21 and 22 at Chennai Trade Centre.

It would cost roughly Rs. 120 crore for setting up six modules, with the share capital amounting to Rs. 27.50 crore, Central grants of Rs. 64.55 crore and term loans of Rs. 27.50 crore.

The draft feasibility report is being consulted with the various stakeholders and it would be submitted to the State government to arrive at a final road map.