Govt to establish CA facility for fruits, vegetables

To increase lives of perishable goods including fruits and vegetables, the government plans to establish modern Controlled Atmosphere (CA) in different cities of the country with a total cost of Rs 2.229 billion, sources told Daily Times on Saturday.

The project envisages establishment of modern CA storage facilities and advanced ventilated cold storage rooms for fruits and vegetables at selected locations including Peshawar, Quetta, Gilgit and Multan. Sources said CA is an advanced commonly used technique to store and keep fruit & vegetable products fresh for a much longer time as compared to conventional cold storage practices.

Approximately, 25 to 40 percent fruits and vegetables get damaged during post-harvest process such as storage, transportation and sale as the available storage system lacks innovations. The storage facilities would be built up in collaboration with Chinese firm “Beiging Fruitong Sciences and Technology Co Ltd” through procurement of needed machinery and its installation. The scheme would increase shelf life of agricultural produce like apple, pear, banana, strawberry, cherry, pomegranate, lemon, lechi, chillies, guvava and mango. The sources said once the cold storage is established, the private sector would be invited to operate it and it is expected that the storage facility would be extended to FATA where this facility is badly needed.

For the establishment of this project – which is expected to complete in five years (2010 to 2015) — the government of China would provide Rs 1.862 billion as grant and local component for this scheme includes Rs 366.878 million. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture is the sponsoring agency for this project and the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council Islamabad would be the executing agency for it. The project involves direct employment of 96 personnel for its implementation and the storage facilities would also generate indirect employment opportunities in private sector.

The sources further said the advance storage facilities would be available at selected locations in provinces with sufficient capacity to store about 34 thousand tonnes of fruits and vegetables per annum.

Under the project, advanced ventilated cold storage rooms for potato at the selected sites would be established in selected sites including Okara, Daska and Karachi. According to the plan, CA rooms would be established in Peshawar, Quetta and Multan – each having 5000 tonnes of storage capacity of fruits and vegetables while in Gilgit the CA room will have 1000 tonnes of storage capacity and would be used to store cherry. While on the other hand, the advanced ventilated potato storage rooms would be established in Okara, Daska and Karachi having 6000 tonnes of potato storage capacity.

About the existing storage facilities, the sources told that presently the country has traditional cold storages. The CA and Advanced Ventilated Gold Storages are advanced technologies to store agricultural products in their original shape. Moreover, Chinese experts would train Pakistani scientists / engineers to operate and maintain this technology on sustainable bases.

A Programme Implementa-tion Unit (PIU) of the project would be established in the PARC for execution of the scheme. The government has allocated Rs 609.9 million in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP 2010-11). With the completion of this project, the sources said that it would help reduce post-harvest losses of fruits and vegetables and contribute towards food security, self-reliance and enhancing export of fruits.

The agriculture sector’s strategy is to increase productivity of crops, livestock and fisheries for achieving self-reliance in food security, to promote production of high value crops, milk and dairy products and to strengthen agricultural institutions for research and extension. In addition, production and export potential of horticultural crops, livestock and fisheries would also be exploited. – Dailytimes