SELCO Foundation

India is the second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world. Yet, every year, India suffers massive post-harvest losses in its horticulture (fruits and vegetables) value chains. It is estimated that ~30% of this yield never reaches the end consumer, resulting in an economic loss of ~INR 63,000 crore every year. These post-harvest losses directly translate into income losses for farmers, particularly small- and medium-scale farmers who struggle to gain access to temperature-controlled, post-harvest logistics solutions like cold storage facilities which are designed to reduce post-harvest losses. Moreover, in rural and off-grid settings, most available cold storage facilities still rely on diesel generator sets due to unreliable grid electricity, contributing to higher cost of running these facilities and undesirable impacts on local air quality and long-term adverse impacts on the climate.

Decentralised, renewable energy (DRE) based cold storage facilities, available at the farm level, can help reduce post-harvest agricultural losses, improve farmer livelihoods and provide climate co-benefits. Powered by renewable energy like solar PV or biomass, these solutions can reduce reliance on diesel, overcome grid reliability issues and be made available in geographies where grid infrastructure is still non-existent. But the high upfront capital expenditure associated with DRE-based cold storage facilities has constrained adoption, hence restricting market scale of these solutions. There is a recognised need to pilot different types of business models which can improve affordability of these solutions for different categories of end users, primarily individual farmers, Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) and other grass-roots community-led organisations.

To demonstrate affordability and potential for scalability and replicability of DRE-based cold storage facilities, we are funding the SELCO Foundation to pilot three innovative, community-led business models in Odisha. This intervention has been designed in close collaboration with local implementing partners — Social Education for Women Awareness (SEWA), Lokdrusti and Self Employed Worker's Association Kendra (SEWAK). Learning derived from the successful deployment of these pilots will be used as evidence to inform policy makers and identify broad success factors for different business models. The pilots will also demonstrate how philanthropic funding can help catalyse the wider adoption of DRE-based cold storage to build resilient farmer communities.

The pilots are expected to become operational by June 2021.

SELCO Foundation is implementing three decentralised, DRE-based cold storage units in Odisha. The main objectives are:

  • Assess the profitability of the three innovative business models.
  • Monitor the impact of the solution on farmer incomes / livelihoods.
  • Share recommendations to inform state- and national-level polices to encourage adoption of DRE cold storage.

Anticipated impact

Pilot location in Odisha Implementing partner Primary produce Storage capacity Community to be impacted
Jharsuguda Social Education for Women Awareness, Bajarang FPO Chillies 5MT 450 women farmers
Naupada Lokdrusti, 47 FPOs Fruits, vegetables and pulses 10MT 6,000 farmers, including 5,000 women farmers
Sundargarh Self Employed Worker's Association Kendra Mangoes and vegetables 15MT (retrofit) 600 women farmers

SELCO Foundation (the grantee) is collaborating with several FPOs as well as three community organisations to deploy the cold storage units:

2. Lokdrusti

The project is being implemented in Odisha. The three districts are: Jharsuguda, Naupada, Sundergarh.

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