With millions of dollars worth of fruits and vegetables going to waste each year, due to inadequate storage infrastructure, India has sought expertise from New Zealand for the development of cold storage facilities in the country.
New Zealand is a major producer of fruits and dairy products in the world. It has expertise and modern technology in setting up cold storage facilities that India needs. India now wants to use this expertise to solve food storage problems.
"India has 37 million tonne opportunity for developing cold storage. We have asked New Zealand's expertise in this matter," a senior official from India's Ministry of Commerce was quoted as saying.
Notably, Sharad Pawar, India's Agriculture and Food Processing Industries Minister was recently quoted saying the value of annual wastage of fruits and vegetables in the country was estimated at Rs 13,309 crore (over US$ 2.08 billion).
However, reports say, if the wastage value of food grains including rice, wheat, cereals and others is taken into account, the annual wastage figures would go up to Rs 44,000 crore (over US$ 6.88 billion).
The Commerce ministry official said, this was one of the important issues discussed by Indian officials with their New Zealand counterpart during their meeting in Wellington on in July.
The official said since New Zealand is a major producer of fruits and dairy products, it has expertise and modern technology in setting up of cold storages.
As per estimates, there is requirement of about 60 million tonnes of cold storage in the country against the present capacity of around 29 million tonnes.
The Indian government also provides financial assistance for construction of cold chain infrastructure.
The Commerce Ministry official said, India has also suggested New Zealand to invest in the dairy sector.
"New Zealand dairy sector can invest in India to produce dairy items that India does not produce," the official added.
India has also sought greater market access in New Zealand to export items like gems and jewellery, pharmaceutical, engineering goods, leather products and sports goods in order to increase bilateral trade between the countries.
Meanwhile, New Zealand wants access to Indian markets for its agri-products like apple, kiwi, dairy and also wine.
Both the countries are negotiating a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement since 2010. The broad-based free trade agreement proposes to cover goods, services and investment.
The bilateral trade between the two countries stood at meagre $998.68 million in 2012-13. It was $1.07 billion in the previous fiscal.
Reports added that the FTA is important for India as it hopes to get more work visas for its professionals especially teachers, healthcare providers, technicians, IT experts, architects and hospitality providers in New Zealand.
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