A cold storage is a place/ facility built to preserve the goods at their optimum or required temperature to extend their life and keep them fresher.
In a cold storage facility a refrigeration system maintains the temperatures that works to preserve food and pharmaceutical products. The other specialized machinery may also be used that can regulate different gases and maintains an appropriate temperature and humidity level inside. It is now being used in many places like food industry, pharmaceutical industry, and many other industries.
Storage is actually a most important part of cold chain process, which is not fully understood in Pakistan and where considered it’s in fashion with broken links rather than one strong cold chain. The cold chain process starts as soon as possible after harvest and to be continued through cooling, grading, transportation and finally to be ready for consumer use. Keeping in view, the process involved in storage of fruits from producer and back to trader/ consumer can be elaborated as in below chart;
The Cold storage of goods can be classified in different types according to need and requirements, few of them are as follows;
Blast Freezers and Chillers.
Mega Cold Storage and Cold Rooms.
Pharmaceutical Grade Cold Storage.
Control Atmosphere Cold Storage.
How Controlled Atmosphere Storage Enhance Life Of Fruits:
CA Stores are most advance form of cold storage and are specially designed to store certain fruit or vegetables as it employs reduced temperatures with reduced oxygen O2 and elevated carbon dioxide CO2 levels to further suppress metabolic activity in stored products. It is also used to extend storage life of seasonal perishable produce when refrigeration alone is not sufficient. This has been the principle storage method for world’s Apple crop. Apples still remain the pre-eminent produce stored under CA conditions but in recent years, it has become an important storage technique for many other fruits and vegetables.
To store fruits & Vegetables for longer periods, their natural ripening process has to be delayed without adversely affecting the eating quality. This is achieved by reducing the temperature of the produce to optimum or lowest level possible temperature without causing damage of freezing or low temperature breakdown.
Fruits & vegetables stored in CA can be preserved up to four times longer than any other methods used for storing fruits and vegetables.
Controlled Atmospheric Storage facilities are playing main role in export of fruit and vegetable from developed and developing countries into world fruit markets. Like other agrarian economies, Pakistan can also earn billions of dollars by contributing its share in world’s fruit and vegetables export basket.
Advantages of Control Atmospheric cold storage
Increase in Exports
Export is backbone for any economy and being agricultural economy, Pakistan can bring billions of dollars through export of fruits and vegetables by establishing a cold chain of different storage facilities across country.
During peak season of any fruit or vegetable, prices are at minimum level and in most cases, the excessive crop is wasted or sold at very cheaper rate to avoid losses. Farmers can store their fruits and vegetable in peak season and sell them to local market or international market at best price when season is out.
Investment in Controlled Atmospheric Store Technology by Government will give immense confidence to agriculturists and industrialists. A Very high Rate of Return (ROI) through export and local sales of fruits & vegetable will attract Agriculturists, industrial giants and private sector to invest heavily in this sector. This will lead to a snow ball effect towards establishment of chain of CA stores all across country, just like India and Chilli. Once the private sectors will get a taste of CA stores business, Pakistani industrial giants will also diversify towards fruit export and ultimately Pakistan may earn billions of dollars through Cold Chain of CA and other allied industries.
Overall aim of cold storage / Control Atmospheric storage facilities development is to turn fruit and vegetables export industry into a billion dollar export industry of Pakistan whose trickledown effect will uplift the life of every common Pakistani.
Agricultural exports require at least 15-20 days of preservation during cross-border transportation. The preservation time sometimes may double or triple depending on the destination or for various reasons.
Many of the firms and Govt. itself know that being an agrarian economy the preservation of fruits & vegetables in cold storage holds the key to sustainable agricultural exports, but only a few are financially able to follow the business and require Govt. support.
If the Govt. takes the initiative and build more cold storage facilities within or around the production areas, it will help local farmers and with full cold chain developed they could draw up production plans quarterly or monthly to meet export demand.
- To turn a large number of farms into fruit and vegetables exporting units:
Majority of farms and orchards of fruit & vegetable in Pakistan are ready to earn foreign exchange right away only if modern technology of CA store facility is provided in their respective areas. These fruit orchards are not like our other industries which require many years to come into production. With introduction of this technology, each farm can be turned into fruit exporting unit.
- To attract industrialists & private sector for investment in fruit export sector: Give an introduction of new technology to private sector investors which may prove a catalyst in turning the country into one of the leading fruit exporting country on world map.
- Food security by preserving the excessive crop from wastage:
During peak season of any fruit or vegetable, prices are at minimum level and in most cases, the excessive crop is wasted each year due lack of post-harvest management, farmers can store their excessive produce during peak season and sell them as fresh in local market during off season and will not have to sell their harvest at throw away prices. They can sell them in local market at four times prices during off season.
- Take a large a share from 2 billion dollar export of Cherries from Chilli to China:
With CPEC, China will be the most viable market for Pakistani fruits. There are huge quantities of various exportable fruits which are grown in Gilgit region and can be easily be exported to bordering China by road, distance between Chili and China is 19640 Km. Chili is exporting more than 2 billion USD worth Cherry to China each year. Gilgit is the largest producer of cherry in Pakistan and is located at zero kilometre from China. Pakistan can export almost all of its cherries from region to China by using CA storage and fruit processing technology. One of the objective of this project is to take 50% share of cherries export from Chili to China which will be 1 billion dollars yearly.
- Export from allies industries
Once CA store cold chain culture will kick into Pakistan’s Agriculture sector, it will create a number of export oriented industries as additional fruits related business. Export of fruit pulp, puree, jams and juices etc. May also bring huge foreign exchange.
- CA store culture will not only uplift the farmer communities of Pakistan in long run but will also earn billions of dollars for country like other agrarian economies.