Bihar incurs a post-harvest fruits and vegetable loss of over Rs. 10,700 crore annually, apex industry body Assocham. "Gujarat ranks second with post-harvest fruits and vegetable losses of about Rs. 11,400 crore, followed by Bihar (over Rs. 10,700 crore), Uttar Pradesh (Rs 10,300 crore) and Maharashtra (Rs 10,100 crore)," Assocham secretary general DS Rawat said.
Lack of proper storage facilities was responsible for wastage of substantial quantities of fruits and veggies produced in India and it could be prevented to a great extend by controlling post-harvest environmental conditions, Rawat said. "The magnitude of post-harvest loss in fruits and vegetables can be minimised by proper cultural operations, harvesting, transportation, storage, pre and post harvest treatments and other such significant measures," Rawat said.
"Considering that storage is most important aspect of post-harvest fruit and vegetable handling as it extends the storage life of the produce thereby enhancing its availability period," he added. Rawat said the total storage capacity in India was over 300 lakh million tonnes and there was an additional requirement of cold storage of about 370 lakh tonnes for fruits and vegetable storage.
"The existing cold storage capacity in India is confined only to wholesale markets while majority of fruits and vegetables are sold at local or regional markets which do not have cold storage facility," said Rawat.
"The wholesale market development is also equally important for reducing post-harvest losses as in its absence price transparency gets undermined and transaction costs rise," he said. Storage and handling conditions need to be enhanced in the fruit and vegetable markets thereby providing infrastructure facilities to bring down post-harvest losses and promote increased productivity, the study reveals.
West Bengal is India's leading horticulture producing state with over 27,000 tonne of fruits and vegetables produced across the state annually, thereby accounting for over 10 % share across India. Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra are other states that have topped in horticulture production, accounting for a share between 8% to 9%."About 30% of total fruits and vegetables produced are rendered unfit for consumption due to spoilage after harvesting as they are highly perishable commodities," said Rawat.