University clean cold experts are helping Indian farmers increase incomes and supply foods that allow people in India to live a healthy and active life.

University of Birmingham clean cold experts are helping Indian farmers take the next sustainable steps towards doubling farmers’ incomes and ensuring that people across India can eat the foods that allow them to live a healthy and active life.

Researchers from the Birmingham Energy Institute are working in collaboration with the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation to kick-start a programme to advance the use of new technology in Haryana and Punjab and help meet rising demand for cooling sustainably.

The programme will help India achieve nutrition security and help boost farmers’ incomes, with Shakti providing funding to allow researchers to carry out the vital first phase of work in creating a roadmap to clean cold success.

The partners are launching the programme on 10 September with a workshop in Chandigarh to engage the regional agricultural community, hosted by the State Government of Haryana. A second workshop with the Government of India, industry and financiers follows in Delhi two days later.

Professor Toby Peters of the University of Birmingham commented: “The Government of India (GoI) has put forth substantial emphasis on doubling farmers' income, by 2022. In India, up to 50% of food can be lost post-harvest primarily because of lack of cold chain. We cannot address rural poverty without cold chains extending the life of crops while connecting farmers to markets.

“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.”

Pawanexh Kohli, CEO of the national Centre for Cold Chains Development added: “India and the wider world is moving away from traditional food security towards nutritional security – it’s no longer just about filling tummies, but strengthening bodies.

“Food grain consumption is dropping world-wide, while high nutrition foods like dairy, fruits, vegetables, fish and meats are on the rise. In India alone, consumption of high nutrition foods is expected to touch half a billion tons by 2030. Connecting the supply of such foods with consumers leaves only one healthy recourse - the ‘cold-chain’.”

Researchers will work with Indian partners and State Governments, including Haryana, to develop a Centre of Excellence that demonstrates innovative and integrated solutions for creating cooling solutions for farmers without compromising climate goals.

The programme will deliver:

  • A roadmap identifying the actions needed to deliver clean cold goals in India;
  • A cooling services model that outlines the new technology needed
  • In-country ‘living labs to test and demonstrate new technologies

The first phase of the partnership will see experts:

  • Assessing the energy and emissions footprints of cold-chain sector in India;
  • Analysing energy and technological footprints in sectors such as food, pharmaceuticals and data storage;
  • Developing a vision for the types of new cold-technology to be used; and
  • Creating innovative ways of financing and implementing clean cold by linking farmers, producers, financiers and major food retailers.

Krishan Dhawan, CEO Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation stated: “A robust and effective cold chain system is vital to achieve the sustainable development goals related to poverty, health and hunger.

“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”.

The programme launch and workshops follow an agreement signed in May between the University and the State Government of Haryana to advance the use of ‘clean cold’ technology in India and help meet rising demand for cooling sustainably.

This will develop a centre of excellence to help map out a blueprint and delivery plan for sustainable cooling across the north Indian state. The agreement builds on the University’s work with collaborators in India to understand how to deliver sustainable refrigerated distribution chains to help boost farmers’ income.

The Government of India aims to double farmers' income by 2022 through productivity gains. Cold chains reduce post-harvest food loss and increase farm income by storing and transporting high-quality produce to distant cities throughout the year.

Professor Robin Mason, University of Birmingham Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) and Director of the University of Birmingham India Institute, commented: “The University of Birmingham is a civic university with a global outlook, but there exists a special bond between Birmingham and India which stretches back to the arrival of our first Indian students in 1909.

“Our India Institute affirms our deep and continued commitment to engagement with the country. This partnership with Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation illustrates how we can contribute to Indian society, as our researchers forge links with their counterparts that will change millions of lives for the better.”

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation seeks to facilitate India’s transition to a cleaner energy future by aiding the design and implementation of policies that promote clean power, energy efficiency, sustainable urban transport, climate action and clean energy finance.