COLD STORAGE.  In its bid to enhance the quality of agriculture in the country, the Department of Agriculture seeks to install on-site cold storage facilities across the country. On Friday (June 25, 2021), DA Secretary William Dar met with manufacturers from India to observe their demonstration. (Photo from DA Comms Group) 

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is eyeing to put up solar-powered cold storage in food production areas across the country, in partnership with Next Agri Corporation Philippines Inc., and Ecofrost Technologies India.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar attended on Friday the demonstration of the demo unit of India’s most innovative digitally-enabled modular on-farm solar-powered cold storage.

“We welcome this innovative and inclusive technology that can be adopted anywhere in the Philippine countryside, simply with the aid of renewable solar energy,” he said.

The solar-powered unit will be the first of its kind in the Philippines. DA said it will have no additional cost for power expenses in storing their produce and can be easily installed in remote areas even without access to electricity.

“Like in other developing countries, the Philippine agriculture sector has been suffering from high post-harvest losses. In high-value crops alone, the losses can easily reach 20-40 percent,” Dar said.

The secretary shared that farmers in rural and remote islands have been unable to preserve their produce due to a lack of cold storage facilities, forcing them to sell at lower prices to middlemen and loan sharks, and often getting lower than 50 percent of their actual value.

This venture will also address the increasing climate change risks and frequent natural disasters like typhoons, floods, droughts, etc., which are exacerbating postharvest problems of small farmers.

The on-site cold storage facilities will help to build resilient Filipino farming communities in reducing food and income losses when natural disasters like typhoons, floods, and droughts occur.

Appropriate on-site cold storage facilities can also play a crucial role in preserving farmers’ produce, increasing their income, ensuring food security and export competitiveness of our nation.

Dar pointed out, however, that the challenge is to make the facility affordable and sustainable and to offer after-sales service, which should be a requisite for all agri-fishery equipment manufacturers, distributors, and service providers.

Next Agri Corporation Philippines Inc. and Ecofrost Technologies India specialize in building sustainable postharvest technologies to prevent losses and wastage, allowing food producers to maximize yield and profit. (PNA