Projects

PROJECTS

We are currently funded by DBT-GOI (21 December 2017 to 20 December 2019) in Newton Bhabha Bilateral Project with UK on "Development and Optimization of Fresh Produce Supply Chain and Storage Systems".

This project will develop technological solutions to support the farm to packer supply chain of fresh produce within India. It will deliver novel low cost cold stores and biodegradable packaging systems which when combined will have a material impact in reducing post-harvest losses for multiple thousand Indian farmers. Empowering the farmers via the availability of small scale stores will help them manage stock availability, liquidity and market cost fluctuations. At the level of packer, we will develop world leading technology to enhance the control of large cold store systems. This will include the development of state of the art mesh sensor networks to monitor store temperature, humidity and gas levels which will enable an unprecedented degree of control, and therefore, the reduction in waste with quality improvement. The Indian consumers will receive a more consistent supply of good quality fresh produce.Specialized raw materials are Farm produce (Potatoes, Onion and Others).

We are also planning with Monash University of Australia in early 2019 a workshop on

Australia-India Workshop on Food Supply Chains:

Productivity Improvement, Integration and Leadership

Summary

Our proposal to organize a bilateral Workshop sets out to address the following development challenges:

  • Improving the sustainability and profitability of Agribusiness;
  • Human health by way of availability of hygienic and nutritious food
  • Saving of precious resources such as water, fertilizers, pesticides, seeds, energy, and labour that are used to produce food that is not used for human consumption and goes as waste (approx. one third of production)
  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from rotting of food waste.

1) Rationale For Choosing Above Topic

Modern Food supply chains serve two inter-dependent objectives: 1) enhancing value thus benefitting farmers to consumers and 2) reducing food wastage.

Food loss is defined by FAO as "the decrease in quantity or quality of food" and are the agricultural or fisheries products intended for human consumption that are ultimately not eaten by people or that have incurred a reduction in quality reflected in their nutritional value, economic value or food safety. An important part of food loss is "food waste", which refers to the discarding or alternative (nonfood) use of food that was fit for human consumption - by choice or after the food has been left to spoil or expire as a result of negligence.

The magnitudes of food losses in major food categories are estimated by FAO and are shown below:

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2) What The Proposed Workshop Will Deal With

Our Workshop will deal with following three Indian sectors: 1) Agribusiness; 2) Energy and Resources (including water) and 3) Health though our focus will be on agribusiness/fresh foods sector. Modern food supply chains impact agribusiness by making them profitable and sustainable. Energy and resources (including water) can be saved by reducing the food wastage which is the principal aim of modern food supply chains. Agriculture uses 70% of all water used by people and thus 23% of water used presently in growing wasted food which is good for human consumption can be additionally made available for human by preventing food wastage. Availability of hygienic (lesser microbial contamination especially from those that are deleterious to human health) and nutritious food will impact human health. Further, there is saving of greenhouse gases because of prevention of food rotting which generates these greenhouse gases.

India has paucity of authentic data on food losses; however several studies have established a pattern of food losses in developing and developed countries. Food losses are more in the initial part of supply chain in developing countries whereas they are much more at the end stages of food supply chains in developed countries as exemplified in the following figure:

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Redrawn from References(6)


The exact information about the state of affair of various verticals of Indian food supply chains is largely missing and to bridge this gap, we will make efforts to have the information presented in this Workshop available in both digital and non-digital media.

For certain vegetables such as Potato, despite of glut at harvest time, cold storage albeit of insufficient quantities is done throughout India which can if suitably integrated in supply chain can be very useful in reducing cost of aggregation which is both an expensive step as well as time consuming. In our proposed Workshop, we will attempt to develop cooperation of cold storage with the next link of transportation and marketing.


3) What will be Major Content of Proposed Workshop

This Workshop intends to bring all the five following essential major verticals of food supply chain together to help in evolution of smart food supply chains in India. These five verticals are 1) Food Production & Post-harvest, 2) Processing, 3) Distribution, 4) Retail and 5) Food service. To our knowledge such an effort has not been done in India so far.

We expect that by better understanding among people representing the above five verticals of food supply chains during the proposed Workshop will lead to development of rapid functional relationship between them. We hope that with this Workshop, we provide a meeting ground for leaders in the above named five verticals and inculcate cooperation among them. Surely these five components are highly diverse in nature but at the same time are they are highly inter-dependent for functional food supply chains.

The reviews by experts (Indians and Australians) will set the stage for discussion which we hope will be both didactic and non-didactic in nature.

The important question is why this effort will succeed while many others have not succeeded so far. The answer lies in our dispelling illusory facts so abundant in this area which prevents logical progression.

Our objectives are to provide a baseline definition for dispelling illusory truth in assessing the potential relevance and impact of developing modern food supply chains for India. We believe that what cannot be measured cannot be managed efficiently. We wish to identify the barriers in adoption of modern food supply chains. Finally, we wish to prioritize the potential solutions in light of experience gained in a) developed countries, b) in some of the specialized successful food chains such as with milk (perishable) in India and c) in initiating and operating a modern food supply chain of certain perishable vegetables in India.

It will be our objective in the Workshop to develop strategies to strengthen weaknesses of Farmers in price negotiation. Farmers as sellers in the local markets which are generally weak compared to buyer for several reasons; principal being his need for money during the glut at harvest time and small volumes of his individual farm produce.

Constructive change in modernizing food supply chains with the potential to give a tremendous advantage to the Farmers', consumers and the country overall is presently being met with futility, perversity and jeopardy. India has tremendous urban demand for good quality vegetables. Export of Indian vegetables has also good potential for expansion. We will aim to develop strategies in the Workshop to have access to such markets which is likely to also benefit farmers. We will attempt to emphasize that Quality of Farm Produce will fetch higher price in certain markets.

Our Workshop will address to present largely un-remunerative Indian agriculture. Agriculture employs more than 50 per cent of the total workforce in India and contributes around 17-18 percent to the country's GDP implying that productivity in Agriculture is relatively only one-third of average in terms of GDP contribution.

Our attempt in the Workshop to crux of problems of Indian Agriculture will address to their indebtedness. Un-remuneration prices of farm produce and a combination of higher input costs force farmers into indebtedness. Indebtedness of farmers has four major consequences:

  • Farmers themselves suffer misery.
  • Unbearable fiscal pressure on Government revenues for loan waivers and undesirable consequences of fiscal deficits.
  • Credit growth of banks.
  • Stress on banking system by increasing non-performing assets.

The present situation is alarming; 52% of Indian farm household are in debt . Though Indian Agriculture is plagued with the interrelated problems of Poverty, Gender Inequality, Water Scarcity & Environmental Pollution; a start on solution will be taken up by developing strategies in the Workshop with increasing Farmers' income and more secure arrangement of selling their farm produce.

Finally, it is our hope that distillate of this Workshop will guide private sector and public policy makers into an effective path of developing smart food supply chains of foods in India.