Shimla, Dec 23 (IANS) The Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Produce Marketing and Processing Corporation (HPMC) is working on a project to upgrade and establish controlled atmosphere stores and packing houses in the state, an official said on Sunday.
The World Bank funded Rs. 1,134 crore Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Development project is being implemented under which supply chain infrastructure support is to be provided to cater to the increased production of fruits, a government spokesperson told IANS.
The existing grading packing houses will be upgraded and the capacities of controlled atmosphere stores will be increased from 3,380 tonnes to 10,000 metric tonnes. The processing plants at Parwanoo and Jarol towns will also be upgraded by creating new facilities, he said.
In order to implement the projects with facilities matching world-class standards, international consultants have been appointed. The production capacity of the fruit processing plants would be increased to 2,500 tonnes.
The HPMC plans to turn the apple pomace at these facilities into high-value pectin and manure which would generate additional income besides optimally utilizing the waste.
The upgraded machines would enable the HPMC to get better realization from the fruit processed and make it competitive in the international market due to its quality and price.
Under the project, a fruit processing plant will be set up each at Parala in Shimla district and in Chamba town which would further increase the processing capacities of the HPMC.
These facilities would be upgraded with an investment of Rs 130 crore, HPMC Managing Director Madan Chauhan said.
For setting up the cold chain component, consultancy arrangements have been made with Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands and Global Agri System Private Ltd of New Delhi.
The consultants would bring in expertise in upgrading the existing facilities and in creation of new packing grading houses and controlled atmosphere stores.
The HPMC is also planning to have a hydro cooling facility for cherries at Jarol-Tikker which would enhance the shelf life of the fruit.
The capacities of the existing controlled atmosphere stores at Jarol-Tikker, Gumma, Oddi and Rohru, all in Shimla district, would be increased from 700 tonnes to 2000 metric tonnes each.
The increase in capacities would help the farmers in realizing better returns for their produce due to better and prolonged storage systems.
Apple constitutes about 93 percent of the total fruit production in the state.
Besides apples, other fruits like cherries, pears, peaches, apricots, kiwis, strawberries, olives, almonds and plums are the major commercial crops of the state.