March 19, 2010

Experts Gather in Uzbekistan to Discuss Vital Cold Storage Needs

Cold storage experts and agroprocessing professionals convened last week in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to address the country’s growing need to efficiently package, deliver, and store fresh produce.

The Cold Store Operations workshop at the Grand Mir Hotel taught best practices and innovations in cold storage technology, crucial for Uzbekistan as its farms yield higher volumes of fruits and vegetables. The country lacks modern cold storage capacity, which is required for the further processing of fruits and vegetables (and the livelihoods and commerce associated with that process) as well as for maintaining freshly harvested products.

The March 9-11 event was hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan. Richard Tracy, director of international programs for the Global Cold Chain Alliance, led the discussions along with consultants Patrick Hughes and Jorge Fonseca.

The workshop was cosponsored by AgLinks Uzbekistan, a U.S. Agency for International Development-funded project led by DAI, and the United Nations Development Programme’s Business Forum of Uzbekistan. U.S. Ambassador Richard B. Norland addressed 55 attendees from Uzbekistan’s agriculture and agroprocessing industry.

Participants discussed facility and warehouse design, energy management, food handling, temperature management, monitoring and documentation, and Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP), among other topics.

Effective cold storage—including basic storage, refrigeration, and freezing—minimizes postharvest losses and preserves the appearance and quality of fruits and vegetables for long-term storage and further processing. The workshop familiarized companies and entrepreneurs with basic and advanced technologies in cold storage and sought to develop a network of participants in this field that can be integrated into the international cold storage system.

AgLinks Uzbekistan is a four-year project to increase agricultural productivity in Uzbekistan through a mix of technical assistance and training.