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Strengthening Nutrition Security and Farmer's Livelihood in Rural India through Green- Chill Cooperative Movement

We envision to enhance the nutritional quality and farmer's income through cold chain infrastructure in Uttarakhand, India.

Photo of Meena Sehgal
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Researcher Institution

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Under 1 year

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

New Delhi

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Uttarakhand, a state located at the foothills of the Himalayas in India, covers a geographical area of 53000 km2.

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

TERI launched a Research Initiative at Supi for Himalayan Advancement (TRISHA) in 2003, at 7500 feet, towards the sustainable development. This initiative is a distinct venture towards the sustainable development. 

TRISHA resulted in development of facilities like vermicomposting unit for biofertilizer, polyhouses and glasshouses, herbal garden, Kumaon Vani community radio facility, and rainwater harvesting system.

TERI also focused on research and extension to improve the livelihoods of local farmers through:

1. Enhancing land productivity using sustainable biotechnological approaches

2. Harmonizing modern technologies and traditional knowledge

Around 10,000 farming families are linked with TRISHA initiative

TERI has promoted the cultivation of herbs and aromatic crops like geranium, rosemary, oregano, parsley etc. These crops can be grown throughout the year in fallow land, require significantly less water and other agricultural inputs. TERI has also helped in creating a live seed bank by sourcing 82 landraces from different regions of Kumaon.

Farmers introduced to poly houses including the more effective Passive Solar Green Houses, which protect crops like tomato, peppermint and broccoli from adverse weather conditions like frost and low temperatures.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Uttarakhand is characterized by diverse geographical features with mountain peaks in the north to tropical forests in the south. Out of the total geographical area of 53000 sq km in the state, 86% is hilly area and 14% is plain area which is cultivable. Because of its location and diverse culture, it has a unique advantage for development of horticulture, agro- processing industries, organic farming, off- season vegetable cultivation and cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants.

The state has 61.1% area under forests and a total net sown area of 14%. The share of culturable wasteland is about 7% which provides a huge potential for fodder trees and other plantation crops including fruits.

The predominant sector in state economy is agriculture contributing about 23.4% to gross domestic product (GDP). This sector is heavily dependent on rainfall. The state has different agro- climatic conditions, slopes and height with varying crop production. The climatic conditions are ideal for production of temperate and subtropical fruit crops, vegetables, spices and flowers. The state can produce off- season vegetables in hilly areas which fetch good price in the market.

Uttarakhand is divided into two regions- the western region known as Garhwal Mandal and the eastern region known as Kumaon Mandal. Garhwal region lies in the Himalayan laps, consisting of rugged mountain ranges running in all directions. Garhwal is known for its art of wood carving which can be seen on every door of the house and even in temples. The major language spoken in this region is Garhwali. In Garhwal, the main ethnic backgrounds include Rajputs (involved in agriculture, business and government service); Brahmins; Tribals (include tribes of Jaunsaris, Jadhs, Marchas and Van Gujars engaged in animal husbandry, agriculture, trade etc.); The Bhotias (mainly businessmen and born mountaineers).

Kumaon culture is a blend of influences from the indigenous population as well as the immigrants to this region. The Aipan (Alpana) is a popular art form, and walls, paper and pieces of cloth are decorated by the drawing of various geometrical figures. People are worshippers of Lord Shiva and Shakti. Common languages include Kumaoni and Hindi.

The traditional cuisine of Uttarakhand is highly nutritious, simple to prepare and at the same time appealing to the palate. The cuisine highlights the unique gastronomy culture, climatic effects on the habit of locals. It suits the high energy requirements of the hilly and cold region. The welcome of a guest is marked by recipes like Keshar ka Halwa, Jhangora ki kheer, Arsa, Puri and Shingals (Shyali) with Aloo ki Gutke.

The customs, rites and other rituals practised by the people of Uttarakhand are essentially based on Hindu religion. They follow distinct rites and rituals for all auspicious and sad moments of life right from the child birth to marriage to death.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

The challenges of the food system cover major areas of Environment, Diets of people, Economics, Culture of people, Technology and Policy of the state.

Globally, India is the second largest producer of rice and vegetables and fruits, the largest producer of milk and exporter of rice. Despite of being the highest producer, the nutrition status in India is poor. The prevalence of anaemia is nearly 60% in rural women and children which is marginally better for men. One of the reasons of low nutrition status is the high food waste of 40% in India. This food waste may not only leave people undernourished but also contributes to the green house gas emissions of around 4.4 GtCO2 eq per year globally (Food wastage footprint and climate change; FAO). With decline in the production of hardy crops (and lower yield of) C4 crops such as millets and sorghum, the nutrition deficit is growing. This could be reduced by appropriate cold chain infrastructure and processing techniques. But India has a gap in cold chain infrastructure of about 80% and lack of food processing of nearly 90% aggravating the food loss and thus, malnutrition.

With the climate associated challenges, Uttarakhand is predicted to become more dry and warm. Thus, the quality and quantity of grains are also expected to drop. This low agricultural productivity, which is a major source of livelihood in Uttarakhand, contributes to migration of the men to urban areas for employment. Therefore, changes at the cultural and policy level are needed to protect the vulnerable population. This could be done through sustainable agriculture, scalable technologies and actionable policy which are required to enhance nutritious production and consumption. The involvement of women in decision making (33.7%) and at workplace (26.8% compared to 49.7% men), their employment status (current 60.6% main workers versus 81.1% men) and literacy rates (76.5% versus 90.7% men) are abysmally low.

Therefore, the time is to plan and take appropriate action.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

  • Developing a farmers' (preferably women) cooperative through the building of cooling infrastructure (cold storage for perishable produce along with small processing unit) which would be located in close proximity to the producers.
  • The cold storage unit is called Green Chill and is an ammonia-based system that runs on a vapour adsorption cycle [ammonia has a global warming potential (GWP) rating of 0]. Thus, it is environmentally sustainable.
  • Improve access to affordable nutrition: The cooperative would be designed and have a charter to allocation of a certain portion of agri/aqua produce at affordable prices to the rural community to encourage nutritious intake.
  • Ensure nutritious consumption: Nutritional awareness programmes would be designed to encourage behavioural change for nutritious (micronutrients) consumption and production (crop diversity) across seasons. The guiding mantra would be to bring “all food groups in each plate”.
  • Incentivizing change: The membership to cold storage cooperative would be based on the adoption of health protective practices such as immunization, school enrolment and attendance, improved sanitation practices, clean cooking fuel. The cooperative will help in connecting with a large market under the government for better prices of the produce.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

To arrest these adverse effects in a vulnerable population sustainable agriculture, scalable technologies and actionable policy would become common place. Our food system approach addresses local concerns of agriculture, nutrition insecurity, affordability of nutritious diet, and climate vagaries; however the proposed transformative mechanisms are built on gender inclusion, empowerment and building community capacity. These would enhance nutritious production, marketing, distribution, and consumption. We have introduced elements of demand generation, and supply creation in our food system approach to make it sustainable.  Furthermore, the proposed system is geared to arrest human migration, reduce green house gas emissions, and livelihood regeneration. Finally we aspire to contribute to the health and well- being of the community.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4, 2015- 16), agri-stress and nutrition insecurity continues to be high in India, with childhood underweight around 36%, and stunting close to 38%, anaemia (haemoglobin in <11.0 g/dl) in women 15- 49 years around 53% and nearly same amongst young children. Furthermore, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports nearly 11,000 farmers committed suicide in India in 2016 alone, which is not significantly different from previous years.

The situation only gets grimmer with climate change related challenges. Particularly, as elevated carbon dioxide, rise in tropospheric ozone and frequent extreme weather events, are expected to reduce nutritional value of several crops. The impacts of climate change on crop yields and the effects of lowered nutrient quality are major concerns in India, and require necessary measures to be taken, especially because of high prevalence of under nutrition and anaemia in the population.

The Government of India has addressed the issue of food and nutrition security through specifically designed nation- wide programmes, such as the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme and Public Distribution System (PDS). Under the current ICDS scheme, food can be provided to preschool children, and their mothers. PDS is another major Indian food security system under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution. It is designed to provide subsidized food (wheat, rice, sugar) to the poor.

Interventions through the DFID supported LANSA projects in India focussed on encouraging nutrition sensitive agriculture and nutrition awareness. The interventions have reported considerable success in improving household level diet quality and dietary diversity in households from both the study areas in districts of Wardha, Maharashtra and Koraput, Odisha.

The drivers for the proposed initiative are both nutrition insecurity and farmer stress.

Through the proposed field- based study, we are hoping to accelerate national policies for improvement of cooling infrastructure for perishable agri-produce. The interventions would be designed to improve not only farmer’s livelihood, but also promote nutritious consumption, thereby exploring mechanisms for building resilience in vulnerable communities to extreme weather/ climate change.

In brief, four key interventions would be the distinguishing features of the study: 

  • Developing a farmers' cooperative (preferably women) through building cooling infrastructure (cold storage for perishable produce) located in close proximity to the producers.
  • This approach would help increase farmers' income by extending the shelf life of agri/aqua- produce. The hypothesis, being longer shelf life would facilitate higher economic returns through sale in off-peak agri-season.
  • TERI has developed a biomass gasifier- based decentralized cold storage system. This system uses locally available farm based renewable energy sources like farm-waste. This technology is sized to meet the Indian farming system and designed to work in Indian climatic conditions. This system avoids the use of grid power or polluting energy from diesel generators. The cold storage unit is called Green Chill and is an ammonia-based (ammonia has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) rating of 0) system that runs on a vapour adsorption cycle.
  • Sites for Green Chill: Frequently visited common areas such as village banks (Grameen Banks), farmer education centres (Krishi Vigyan Kendra), post– offices. 
  • Better income could influence quality of life of the farming community in multiple ways including capacity to procure nutritious dietary intake.
  • Increase access of rural families to nutritious produce, for consumption, through increased availability of produce for a longer duration (both during peak and lean agricultural seasons). This is likely to reduce seasonal variation in dietary intake.
  • Improve access to affordable nutrition: The cooperative would be designed and have a charter to allocate a certain portion of agri/ aqua-produce at affordable prices to the rural community to encourage nutritious intake.
  • Ensure nutritious consumption: Nutrition awareness programme would be designed to encourage behaviour change for nutritious (micronutrients) consumption and production (food diversity) across seasons. These would be initiated in schools, with mentoring children to become agents of change. Guiding mantra being ‘all food-groups in each plate’.
  • Incentivizing change: Membership to cold storage cooperative would pivot on adoption of health protective practices such as immunization, school enrolment and attendance, improved sanitation practices, clean cooking fuel.

Each intervention would be designed through community participation and closely monitored for effectiveness. Continuous monitoring would provide feedback for improving the process for better study outcomes.

In the near term, study outcome would include increase in earnings, better food redistribution, reduced food waste, better dietary intake across seasons, higher rates of adoption of healthy practices and a collective movement for sustainable growth. The Green- Chill cooperative movement may lead to leveraging of the rapidly growing online-sale channels and drone- delivery mechanisms to the benefit of the farming community.

In the long term, we would want to see cold storage infrastructure in each village of the region.

For the most part the intervention is designed, to support food system development to, improve nutritious consumption which particularly threatens health of the most vulnerable groups. These interventions are designed to set in motion growth loops that relate to economic, and social sustainability that have direct impacts on poverty and nutrition status. Contextual evidence from research on impact pathways would guide decision making related to benefits of improved storage infrastructure for perishable produce, and food redistribution.

We strongly believe learning from this research- based intervention would lead to development of strategies for more equitable distribution of resources among the vulnerable. The interventions would help inform mechanisms for better preparedness model for climate associated agri-stress.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Email

Attachments (1)

TERI_ Proposal Vision 2050.pptx

Vision 2050 Proposal

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Thu Nguyen

Hi @Meena Sehgal,

Welcome to the Food Vision Prize community!

For the last hours before the deadline, make sure you have reviewed your final submission through the Pocket Guide to support you through the final hours of wrapping up your submission. This will give you the most important bullet points to keep in mind to successfully submit your Vision.
Here is the link to the pocket guide:

Look forward to seeing your submission finalised by 31st January, 5:00 pm EST :)