A key aspect of sustainable farming is providing storage facilities at low cost, with a low environment footprint. Biomass based cold storage offers just that, as this case study from Maharashtra demonstrates.
At a time when crashing prices of Onions and Potatoes’s and the resulting farmer distress has highlighted the dire need for more storage, comes this story of Biomass powered cold storage in Maharashtra, that is provising a vital cash line to farmers in the state’s Ahmednagar district.
Lemon growers farmers of Jamkhed Block, Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra. Jamkhed block, considered as one of the drought prone geography used to have a tough time maximising opportunities from their lemon crop. Various pulses (Red Gram, Urad, Chana etc), Vegetable and Lemon are the key crops grown in this geography. In recent decades lemons have become the backbone of these area’s farmers. Nowadays farmers are saying Lemon crop as ATM (Any time money) – Means on a daily basis harvest from field and sell at market and earn. Lemon is the major income source for majority farming families and dependent labor communities.
In the traditional format the harvested produce is sold at the village or nearby market place to the trader; most of the farmers give harvested lemon to the trader at farm only. In this process the farmer doesn’t have negotiation power at all; whatever rate the market is offering is needed to accept.
Situations like heavy raining, sudden weather change etc results in food losses and ultimately losses. In the local area no cold storage resources are available, cold storages located at Ahmednagar town offering rental services but were not affordable to common farmers considering the net realisations.
A firm caalled New Leaf Dynamic Technologies Pvt. Ltd, in association with Powering Livelihoods- program jointly run by the Council On Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW) and Villgro Innovations Foundation came up with an alternative. It solved the key challenge of affordability, that Farmer producer companies who were looking for in Cold Storage solution for Lemon & other agri commodities. Biomass Powered Cold Storage units were deployed at this cluster.
Currently two Farmer Producer Companies have adopted units and serve more than 750 shareholders members and other farmers. Also, one of the individual entrepreneurs has adopted technology which offers better prices for local farmers. Farmers have adopted these technology with key rational –
- It works on Biomass which is easily available in villages. Unit doesn’t require 3 phase electricity and with a smaller photovoltaic setup it can easily be run offgrid at farmgate. Agri residue can be utilized in this unit, so cold storage can be run with minimum operating expenses.
- Store produce for longer duration whenever production is higher and market prices are lower.
- Optimize the lemon supply chain – Utilize units for pre-cooling of produce while transporting to a longer route.
- Short duration storage
- Store market return surplus
- Store produce for shorter duration to make batch ready for dispatch
Lemon Crop Overview
- 3 crop cycles in a year
- Peak production happened in winter during Nov-Dec Month. During those months market prices decrease whereas from Mid Jan onwards market prices get hiked as supply is reduced.
- Wholesale market price fluctuation: Lowest prices come down up to 6 Rs per Kg, whereas peak prices go up to 180 Rs per Kg.
Brief about New Leaf Dynamic Technologies & Product
New Leaf Dynamic Technologies has innovated GreenCHILL™ – biomass powered cold storage for safe storage of perishable produce in cold rooms using biomass/farm waste.
GreenCHILL™ – a decentralized, multipurpose cold room in the capacity 15MT, 20MT and its capabilities of temperature range of +2 deg to +25 dec C enables long cold storage (up to 12 weeks), pre-cooling (5,000 kilogram per batch), ripening and natural dehydration.
Impact at Glance:
- 110+ cold storage setup deployment across 9 states in India. 22 Deployment at Maharashtra. Farmer Producer companies, rural entrepreneurs are able to grow their business by 2-4 times by adopting our technology.
- Every 20 MT capacity cold storage setup is saving 45,000 electricity units and close to 40 T Carbon emission compared to conventional cold storage technology.
GreenCHILL uses Biomass (50 – 100 kgs per day) or Biogas as energy source to power an Ammonia refrigeration cycle.
- 90% lesser electricity consumption
- No three phase power/DG set required
- Reduce Cooling cost by 75%
- Carbon savings of 40 Tons per year
- +2° to +25° C Temperature Range
- Humidity control range 65% – 95%
- Customizable capacity up to 20 MT
- For fruit, vegetable, flower or milk products
- Store Produce up to 12 Weeks
- Fully automated with sleep mode to maintain set point temperature.
- Uses natural refrigerant
- Requires less than 0.6 Kw of single phase power
Support Provided by New leaf to farmers:
- Post Harvest Management Training
- SOP for enhancing lemon shelf life, Lemon Wax process and linkages for better quality lemon wax
- Training for steps to be followed during storage – Sorting, Grading, Waxing, Storage, Post storage guidelines etc.
- End User Financing
- Inventory Management : QR code technology has integrated so that farmers are able to see cold room inventory summary on an android app and with reference it decision can be taken.
- Market Linkages for Cold Storage Produce
- Income increment by 3 times. (Ex. In this end of Nov & early Dec month users have procured the lemon at average 14 Rs per Kg. Procurement rate varied from 8-21 Rs with time. Same produce is stored for 40 days and sold at market at 33 – 45 Rs per Kg.
Same cycle will repeat till Summer ends.
- Farmer Producer Companies have procured lemon from nearby farmers and those impacted more than 10.
- Users can easily get a net profit of 2.5 to 3 Lakh in one harvesting season. Jamkhed like cluster base users can get net profit of up to 10 Lakh in a year.
- Users are able to access farther markets – as they have infrastructure to hold produce till the market prices get hiked and then transport in bulk.
- Post Harvest Losses reduction