Post-harvest cooling is crucial for preserving the quality of fruits and vegetables after harvest. It serves to remove field heat, slow down microorganism growth, and reduce ethylene production. More importantly, cooling facilities offer farmers flexibility in marketing their produce by allowing them to choose a more favourable selling time. In rural Meghalaya, where agriculture serves as the main source of livelihood, there is a fast-growing need for access to cold storages as the lack of these facilities has often resulted in farmers being forced to sell their harvest immediately, leading to distress sales and poor returns.
But in Mawthadraishan, the Nongstoin Social Service Society, a local non-profit, is taking proactive steps to address this issue by establishing innovative, low-cost, and zero-energy cold storage facilities to support post-production activities and provide farmers from the Eastern West Khasi Hills District with potential access to more profitable markets. Currently, the Society is setting up these facilities in Nonglait, Laitnamlang, and Mawthohbeh villages.
The objective is to create small-scale storage units within the agricultural fields of vegetable and fruit farmers. These facilities will enable the storage of surplus produce beyond its normal shelf life. Simultaneously, the Society is initiating the formation of a district-level group consisting of 200 individuals to promote cold storage conservation and extend its benefits beyond Mawthadraishan Block. Recognizing the significance of this initiative, CLLMP has provided an Innovations Funding of Rs. 4.92 lakhs to support and expand these activities.
Construction of the cold storage facilities is currently in progress, employing low-cost technology that primarily utilizes bricks, river sand, bamboo poles, and CGI sheets. Each facility is expected to have a storage capacity of approximately 1 ton of vegetables. Leafy vegetables such as spinach, tomatoes, eggplants, carrots, and cabbages can be stored and conserved for up to 4 weeks.