UK-India Centres of Agricultural Excellence in Post-Harvest Management and Cold-Chain

in partnership with Dept for International Trade and British High Commission, India

In order to reduce food loss and increase market connectivity and the value-chain for farmers, Indian State Governments plan to set up a series of Integrated Pack House with End-to-End Post-Harvest Management and cold-chains using energy efficient and sustainable technologies. As one example Haryana State Government is working to create 340+ Pack houses around the state. The Government of India is keen to develop projects, including joint research, that can demonstrate innovative, sustainable (including off-grid) technologies for PHM and cold-chain solutions. As a stated intent, the India Government is targeting 22,000 new rural aggregation, pre-conditioning, processing and onward movement hubs by 2022. It is estimated by the National Centre for Cold-chain Development (NCCD) that India requires more than 70,000 of these in total to meet need plus the associated logistics network

Building on extensive engagement, the UK is exploring how to participate in these initiatives.  In partnership with the British High Commission in India and the Agri-Tech team at the Dept for International Trade (DIT), a UK team has been asked to develop and design a feasibility study for a localisable Model Post-Harvest Management (PHM) and Logistics Hub with an objective of making this a ‘Centre of Excellence’ to support roll-out at scale in India. Led by the University of Birmingham, the team includes Cranfield University, London South Bank University and the National Resources Institute, University of Greenwich plus industry experts.

Our objective is to create these as template projects, with both UK and India partners, where we can showcase UK sustainable technology and expertise in crop post-harvest from field to distribution including sustainable cold-chain.  In India, half (49.8%) of the country’ employment is directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture. Prime Minister Modi stated his vision for doubling farmers’ income to set forth a strategic direction for future development. Subsequently, the Committee for Doubling Farmer’s Income has identified agri-logistics as a vital component in its farm income strategy.

UK’s partnership and exchange of technical know-how could hugely benefit UK post-harvest management and cold-chain businesses. Proving impact within the model hub using British expertise and technologies can create a pipeline of customers. Based on the success of this project, other state Governments could want to import the expertise and technologies from the UK and jointly work on R&D and other additional demonstration centres with UK institutes and industry.

Arranged with the British High Commission and State Governments, the working team have a study tour to Delhi, Haryana/Punjab and Hyderabad at the end of February.  We held a UK webinar on 2nd April to feedback our findings and discuss the programme with interested UK technologies, industry and businesses as well as the wider academic community.

Professor Toby Peters, University of Birmingham

Professor Toby Peters leads the Birmingham Energy Institute’s activity around the Cold Economy and Clean Cold Chains and is one of the main architects of a growing UK and International understanding and realisation of the need for greater research and activity on clean cooling and cold-chain. He is co-Director, Centre for Sustainable Cooling, Senior Advisor on Cooling/Cold-chain for Sustainable Energy for All and the World Bank Group as well as sitting on the Clean Cold Chain Task Force for the International Solar Alliance. He is also an expert advisor for the UNEP Cool Coalition, as well as sits on the Technical Advisory Panel for the Global Cooling Prize. Toby Peters and Birmingham Energy Institute are currently working with the National Centre for Cold-chain Development (NCCD) and Indian counterparts to explore integrated Community Cooling Hubs and how they can help farming, rural communities reduce food waste and productvity losses, develop demand-driven value-chains and increase their income whilst meeting their cooling needs in an affordable and sustainable way. Recently, the University of Birmingham has signed an agreement to be the International Solar Alliance’s research partner on its Solar Cooling Initiative (I-SCI) which will help to spread the use of solar and solar-hybrid energy linked cold-chains and cooling systems for agricultural use.

Professor Judith Evans, London South Bank University

Judith is a Professor at London South Bank University (LSBU). She has 30 years’ experience of working on food refrigeration operations throughout the food cold chain. Her main areas of interest are related to efficiency and energy reduction as well as design and performance of refrigeration equipment. More recently she has become involved in large scale energy storage using liquid air. Judith works on food refrigeration operations throughout the food cold chain from harvest/slaughter to the consumer. During her career Judith has worked on a number of topics including frozen storage of meat, consumer handling of food and studies to improve the performance of domestic and commercial refrigerators, energy labelling, instrumentation performance, decontamination of food, cook-chill systems, novel refrigeration systems, optimising refrigeration systems and improving performance and temperature control in chilled and frozen storage rooms. Judith’s current work revolves around reducing energy use and emissions from the food cold chain, energy storage and optimising food refrigeration processes.

Dr Natalia Falagan, University of Birmingham

After obtaining the BEng (Hons) in Agricultural Engineering (Technical University of Valencia, Spain; 2010) and MSc in Advanced Techniques for Research and Development in Food and Agriculture (Technical University of Cartagena-UPCT, Spain), Natalia was awarded a predoctoral grant by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (FPI – Spain) in 2011. She completed my PhD with Summa Cum Laude, International PhD mention and Extraordinary award by UPCT in 2015. In 2016 she was appointed Research Fellow in Food Science and Technology at Cranfield University (UK). Her work is driven by a need to make food chain systems highly resilient, from farm to fork. She study the pre- and postharvest factors affecting fresh produce quality from three perspectives: physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology, in order to understand the mechanisms underlying ripening and senescence. Her research aims to discover the reasons behind fruit and vegetable response to supply chain conditions and therefore, design optimal technological solutions to reduce food waste while maintaining nutritional and physiological quality. From this knowledge she has designed

Dr Tim Fox, University of Birmingham

Dr Fox is an internationally recognised expert on clean energy and climate change mitigation and adaptation with a particular focus on developing economies and disadvantaged communities. Tim has extensive experience in thought leadership, policy advocacy and public affairs, technology development, funding and finance acquisition, commercialisation, marketing, business model development and high-level relationship building gained in the UK, EU, North America, Japan and the developing economies of Southern and South East Asia. Dr Fox has been employed by large and small internationally focused commercial enterprises, government agencies and educational institutions, and lived and worked in the UK, Australia, Canada and The Netherlands. Tim has been involved in project work in India for the past 6 years with a particular focus on sustainable cooling provision for food systems and cold-chains.