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India's Cold Chain Sector Poised for Robust Growth: Dr Surendra Ahirwar, Joint Secretary, DPIIT

India's cold chain sector is poised for significant growth and innovation, driven by government initiatives, industry-academia partnerships, and advancements in technology and infrastructure.

Shivam Dwivedi
India's Cold Chain Sector Poised for Robust Growth: Dr Surendra Ahirwar, Joint Secretary, DPIIT
India's Cold Chain Sector Poised for Robust Growth: Dr Surendra Ahirwar, Joint Secretary, DPIIT

The cold chain sector in India, a vital component of the logistics ecosystem, is set to witness significant growth and innovation in the coming years, according to Dr Surendra Ahirwar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). Speaking at FICCI's Cold Chain and Logistics Summit, Dr Ahirwar noted that the cold chain sector currently has a turnover of about Rs 2 lakh crore and is growing at a rapid rate of over 10%. He said, "As per one estimate, we are going to reach a Rs 5 lakh crore limit, maybe by 2030 or 2032."

The Joint Secretary emphasized the importance of the industry's various initiatives, including innovations, infrastructure creation, and partnerships between industry and academia. He cited examples such as temperature-controlled warehousing, ice battery technology, and efficient packaging solutions as positive developments in the sector.

Dr Ahirwar also highlighted the government's efforts to create an enabling environment for innovation and efficiency in the cold chain sector. He mentioned the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan initiative, which catalyzes accelerated infrastructure development for the logistics sector, including temperature-controlled warehouses. Besides, he alluded to the National Logistics Policy launched in 2022, which comprehensively addresses various aspects of the logistics sector, including the cold chain.

Speaking on occasion, Asheesh Fotedar, Chief Operating Officer, National Centre for Cold-Chain Development (NCCD), Ministry of Agriculture, alluded to NCCD’s several initiatives aimed at bolstering India's cold chain infrastructure, with a focus on sustainability, efficiency, and innovation. In this regard, NCCD is revising technical standards and minimum guidelines to implement cold-chain components in the sector. The revised guidelines will serve as a roadmap for all central and state government bodies setting up cold chain facilities nationwide. Besides, NCCD is engaging with stakeholders to identify the problems faced by the reefer truck owners and simultaneously working out the policy part to provide proper recommendations to the ministry.

In addition to the guidelines, NCCD is developing a mobile application to digitalize data related to cold chain components. This is expected to increase capacity utilization, reduce fuel costs, and minimize the carbon footprint. The application will also capture relevant logistic data for policymaking and analytics.

Amit Kumar, Committee- Co-Chairman, FICCI Committee on Logistics and Director, Pristine Logistics & Infraprojects, stressed the importance of developing sustainable infrastructure and adopting smart technologies to optimize energy usage and reduce environmental impact. "We stand at a pivotal juncture where technology diffusion, policy initiatives, and market demand present unparalleled opportunities for the cold chain sector. By placing sustainability at the forefront, we can mitigate environmental impact, uphold economic viability, and fortify food security," Kumar stated.

On occasion, the FICCI-Grant Thornton Bharat Report on “Cold Chain Dynamics: Mapping India's Logistics Transformation” was also released. The knowledge report highlights India's dynamic food processing industry, emphasizing the crucial role of the cold chain sector in light of challenges such as infrastructure gaps and high costs.

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