BHUBANESWAR: Cold storage operators have once again urged the State Government to provide a revival package as the sector is reeling under acute financial crisis due to Covid-19 lockdown. While cash inflow has dried up, lack of capacity utilisation of the cold storages has further compounded the problems of the operators.All the cold storages in the State are running below capacity though farmers are finding it difficult to preserve and sell their produce. This is largely because of lack of awareness among farmers and institutional support.
Drawing attention of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to their problems, Odisha Cold Storage Association in a memorandum requested him to provide relief package for revival of cold stores after the lockdown.
“Covid-19 has been the biggest challenge for cold storages as cash inflow has come to a grinding halt. The operators will be left with huge overdrawn accounts which will diminish the chance of revival,” the memorandum said.
The association requested the Chief Minister to ensure working capital support, cost reduction of cold storages by encouraging farmers to store their produce, linking farmers to cold storage and power tariff rationalisation among other things.Expressing concern over demand for higher wages from different labour unions during the lockdown period, the association urged the Government to protect cold storage owners from such unreasonable demand by treating this as unlawful under Essential Services Act.
Protection of wages of the workforce is justified. However, such unreasonable demans by labour unions are nothing but coercion and must be effectively handled,” the association said.Each cold storage of 5,000 mt capacity provides direct and indirect employment to 300 individuals and could serve 10,000 farmers for storage of their produce. Neglecting this industry affects the livelihood of 10,300 farmer families in the catchment area and closure will have a cascading effect on lives of around four lakh farmer families throughout the State, it said.
Ensure working capital support
Encourage farmers to store their produce
Help in cost reduction of cold storages
Link farmers with cold storage
Power tariff rationalisation
Easy compliance for storage of forest produce
Provision for warehouse receipt finance through coop banks
Declare cost of various agriculture produce