India is the second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world (after China) with 74.877 million metric tonnes production of fruits and 146.554 million metric tonnes production of vegetables for the year 2010-11.
However, about 18 per cent of the fruit and vegetables produced in the country, worth Rs44,000 crore, is going waste annually due to lack of proper cold chain storage infrastructure, minister of state for food processing industries Charan Das Mahant informed the Rajya Sabha in a written reply on Friday.
"These were the findings of a study conducted by the Central Institute for Post Harvest Engineering & Technology, Ludhiana (published in 2010)," the minister said.
Replying to another question on the corrective measures taken by the government, Mahant said the ministry provides financial assistance in the form of grant-in-aid at the rate of 50 per cent of the total cost of plant and machinery and civil works in general areas.
Besides, 75 per cent of the cost of plant and machinery and technical civil works in difficult areas are provided subject to a maximum of Rs10 crore for strengthening and value addition to cold chain infrastructure.
Creation and management of cold chain infrastructure for agriculture has been identified as a thrust area by the prime minister, he said.