Wednesday, March 03, 2021

‘Increase cold storage facility at airport’

Madurai: Exporters have urged the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to increase the cold storage facility at the cargo terminal in the Madurai airport. The airport has one cold storage facility each for export and import, with a 5 tonne capacity each.

The facility, which was put to use in 2019 after a long wait, was crucial as 80% of the export items like flowers and vegetables, were perishables. It will allow the exporters to preserve perishable items fresh in case there is a delay in flight movement or consignments missed the flight. Temperature between 2C and 8C is ideal for keeping vegetables and flowers fresh. Storage of seafood requires sub-zero temperatures.

Flowers and vegetables are shipped mostly to the Middle East and South East Asia, with flowers alone shipped to 12 countries. Garments, consignments from India Mail, snacks and automobile spare parts are also being shipped for domestic and international destinations. Although there is good potential for the export of seafood, the sector is largely underutilized, say exporters.

Office-bearers from the Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TNCCI) said that The Agricultural and Processed Foods Export Development Authority (APEDA) has provided cold storage facilities in airports like Chennai and Coimbatore to promote export of processed foods. They said that they had approached APEDA officials, to provide similar facilities in Madurai also. But, officials at the airport should take up the initiative by sending a request. They also have to do the civil work required for the facility, they said.

President of TNCCI N Jegadeesan said when facilities like terminal building and runway are being expanded keeping in mind the future development, importance should also be given to cold storage facilities.

“Various issues impede cargo movement. Madurai will realise its potential if the issues are sorted out. It includes unavailability of permanent plant quarantine officer and absence of round-the-clock operation of the airport. Exporters are opting for Trichy and Coimbatore due to these issues,” he said.

03/03/21 V Devanathan/Times of India

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