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Professor Robin Mason welcomes Pawanexh Kohli to the University of Birmingham’s clean cold event at the British High Commission, in New Delhi.

The University of Birmingham has appointed leading Indian sustainable cold chain expert Pawanexh Kohli as an honorary professor of ‘post-harvest logistics'.

As CEO of India’s National Centre for Cold-chain Development (NCCD), Professor Kohli has played a key role in shaping policy and projects aimed at solving post-harvest food loss – particularly in developing refrigeration networks linking the farmers to market.

The Birmingham Energy Institute has made the high-profile appointment in recognition of Professor Kohli’s leadership in sustainable food logistics in meeting key development targets and his role in helping define the applied research programmes between Birmingham and India to deliver the radical innovation needed.

Professor Kohli has a long relationship with the University. In 2015, the Birmingham Policy Commission on Cold Chain, chaired by Lord Teverson, recognised Mr. Kohli’s contributions as an expert witness.

Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute, said: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set India the challenge of doubling farmers’ income by 2022. The cold chain is a key part of a solution to boost India’s food security and reduce environmental impact.

“Pawanexh Kohli has worked closely with government and industry to help define Indian policy in this area; a key figure in this critical field of developing expertise. He has been invaluable in helping the University of Birmingham effectively design its work in this field with Indian partners.”

In 2012, Professor Kohli helped to establish the NCCD which works between the Government of India, farmers and industry. He acts as Chief Advisor to the Department of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare on post-harvest management, cold-chain and supply chain. He is also an expert member on the Empowered Steering Committee for the implementation of the Montreal Protocol in India.

Under his leadership NCCD has produced over 30 reports and policy pieces which have set the agenda for the Government of India in this area. They have also helped deliver one of the first cold chains from the north to south of India.

Professor Pawanexh Kohli said: “I am personally surprised and most honoured - I am sure this will embolden many other cold-chain stakeholders to do so much more. The University of Birmingham has clearly taken the lead in affirming that post-harvest logistics is the backbone to sustaining the agricultural system, worldwide. Effective post-harvest logistics makes agriculture more environmentally and economically relevant.”

The appointment follows a recent event in India, which saw the University welcoming environmentalists and industrialists to explore ways of advancing the use of clean cold technology to meet in a sustainable way the rising demand for cooling.

Representatives from the University’s Indian ‘clean cold’ partner Shakti Foundation, the NCCD, and CEOs from industry and regional organisations gathered at the British High Commission in New Delhi.

The event followed an agreement signed this year by the University and the State Government of Haryana to develop centres of excellence for clean cold chains that will help to map a blueprint and delivery plan for sustainable cooling across the north Indian state.

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

“The launch this year of the University of Birmingham India Institute affirms our deep and continued commitment to engagement with this great country. We are looking to grow our contribution to Indian society; as our researchers forge links with their counterparts, we hope to change millions of lives for the better.”

In 2018, the University of Birmingham created and hosted the world first Clean Cold Congress, at which Professor Kohli was a keynote speaker. Presently the University is working towards establishing research centres in India, called living laboratories - developed with partner universities with the support of state government in India.

Effective refrigeration is essential to preserve food and medicine. It underpins industry and economic growth, is key to sustainable urbanisation and provides a ladder out of rural poverty. It makes much of the world bearable - or even safe - to live in.

Professor Toby Peters, from the University of Birmingham, commented: “A seamless ‘cold chain’ is needed to move food swiftly from farm to consumer - reducing 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. Climate change and toxic air pollution must be tackled by reducing use of conventional, highly polluting cooling technologies and adopting zero-emission technologies.”

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