CIAL finalising design of centre for perishable cargo

KOCHI, AUG. 21. Final touches to the design of the proposed Centre for Perishable Cargo (CPC) at Cochin International Airport Ltd. (CIAL), Nedumbassery, are being given with the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) offering the airport a grant of Rs. 8.37 crores.

Work to be tendered

The work of the project will be tendered in a few weeks.

The facility, scheduled to be set up by May next year, is expected to lift CIAL to the second largest exporting centre of perishable cargo in the country. Estimated to cost Rs. 15 crores, the project is being jointly undertaken up by the CIAL and the APEDA. A memorandum of understanding was signed about three months ago between CIAL and the APEDA.

Built-up area

The proposed centre for perishable cargo at the airport will have a built-up cooled area of 18,000 sq.ft. It will have facility to store vegetables, fruit, flowers, poultry and livestock items.

According to K. S. Money, chairman of the APEDA, Kochi would witness an annual growth of 20 per cent in the export of perishable cargo when the proposed CPC becomes functional.

Brand image

Mr. Money said that the facility would go a long way in building a brand image for perishable cargo by establishing a `cold chain' from the farm to the market. The country is poorly represented in the world market of perishable cargo because of lack of infrastructure. According to him, the centre at the airport would be part of APEDA's efforts to set up key infrastructural facilities for better export competitiveness.

The APEDA is planning to set up a similar facility at Kozhikode airport also.

Currently, CIAL handles 8,540 tonnes of cargo a year. The proposed CPC is expected to give a considerable boost to the movement of perishable cargo through Nedumbassery.

Six chambers

Serving a link for a cold chain for export of perishable cargo, the centre will have six chambers of varying temperature control for cool rooms. The export quality perishable cargo will be moved from the fields to the pack houses and later to the airport in reefer vehicles. The centre would minimise the rejection of the perishable cargo from the export market.

Meanwhile, CIAL has promised not to increase the user charge for perishable cargo for the next 10 years. Currently, CIAL charges Rs. 1.50 a kg on perishable cargo. The Managing Director of CIAL, V.J. Kurian, had said at the time of the signing of the MoU that the work of the project could be started in four months and the facility completed in a year.