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Indian authorities commence cold chain project with Birmingham Energy Institute

A series of workshops have been held this month around introducing sustainable supply chain cooling to try and overcome rural poverty challenges in India

Researchers from the University of Birmingham have commenced a partnership with the India-based Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation focused on introducing more sustainable cooling to protect foodstocks in Haryana and Punjab.

The institution’s Birmingham Energy Institute is helping devise a programme to determine viable clean cold initiatives for the country’s food supply chain by looking at the types of technology and financing that may be required to tackle pressing issues affecting farmers.

A centre of excellence will be established as part of the focus that brings together cooling experts and state government to determine a clear blueprint for realising more sustainable refrigerated distribution.

The collaboration with Indian stakeholders follows on from the first global clean cold congress held earlier this year at University of Birmingham. The event was focused on introducing new approaches to design and finance, which can be used to implement cooling solutions around the world that are more economically and politically viable. This can include looking at non-mechanical alternatives to standard refrigeration.

A series of workshop events are being held this month to engage with agricultural communities and financiers to look at opportunities for new thinking on cooling.

India’s government has committed to try and double farmer income by 2022 with a focus on improved productivity, according to Birmingham Energy Institute. Cold chains that can reduce post-harvest loss and ensure less energy intensive and costly transportation and storage is one possible means of achieving this aim.

Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation chief executive Krishan Dhawan said that an effective cold chain system would be vital to tackle wider poverty and health issues in India.

Mr Dhawan said, “By 2022, India is expected to see massive capacity addition in pack-houses, refrigeration vehicles and ripening chambers. Cold chains are expected to proliferate rapidly in the next few years through a combination of market and policy driven efforts.”

“Under a conventional scenario, refrigeration vehicles and pack-houses may run on diesel, which is polluting and energy inefficient technology. Leapfrogging towards a more energy efficient, affordable, and clean cold chain will reap benefits for the economy and society at large.”

Professor Toby Peters at the University of Birmingham said that commitments to double farmer income in the country reflected a need to introduce cold chains that could overcome issues of rural poverty.

Professor Peters said, “A seamless cold chain will reduce food loss to raise farmers’ income and give them bigger markets, whilst expanding their selling range. But at the same time, it must be clean and sustainable cooling – we must not replace a social crisis with an environmental catastrophe.”

“As we migrate from fossil fuels to renewables, we need new approaches which recognise the portfolio of available resources including free and waste cold and heat. And we have to design the novel finance and business models required to create economically sustainable systems for the subsistence farmer.”

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