Several large businesses and innovative start-ups have been developing technologies to streamline supply chains and logistics operations that have potential to decrease some of these logistics costs
A report by UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that nearly 31 per cent of the global human-caused Greenhouse Gas emissions originate from agri-food systems. Of this, more than one-third of these emissions are from supply-chain processes that include transportation, storage and other related activities. In addition, India loses at least 20 per cent of its agricultural produce due to supply chain inefficiencies and relatively poor road and storage infrastructure in rural farm areas. As a result, it is estimated that cost of logistics account for up to one-third and wastage accounts for another one-third of the cost of food items such as vegetables, dairy, meats and other perishable produce. These costs are always passed on to the consumers, thus impacting the food security of the most vulnerable.
Several large businesses and innovative start-ups have been developing technologies to streamline supply chains and logistics operations that have potential to decrease some of these logistics costs. The Indian government has recently announced policies to increase investments in market places, transportation logistics, warehousing and cold storage to reduce wastage.
Electric Vehicles (EVs) have a great role to play in not only reducing the carbon footprint of transportation but also to reduce cost of transportation logistics by up to 70 per cent when compared to IC engine-based vehicles. Furthermore, EVs that are designed with superior on-board technologies can make use of the data gathered by their telematics and IOT devices to integrate seamlessly into the technology platforms that drive supply chain logistics to reduce overall transportation costs by improving efficiencies.
At a time when India is upping the ante for EV adoption and is on the verge of an electric mobility revolution, the penetration of technology-equipped EVs in agri logistics must increase in order to drive down logistics costs as well as to improve supply chain efficiencies. As a matter of fact, the agri and agri-allied industries today present a plethora of novel use-cases of EV usage by benefiting from the on-board IOT enabled technologies. So, let us take a look at these novel opportunities and use-cases for EVs that are arising from the agriculture sector:
EVs in Farm Produce Aggregation: Technology can play a key role in aggregation of produce of small farms by connecting these farmers with produce aggregators. EVs deployed for produce aggregation can provide real-time insights to markets harnessing the data gathered from on-board technologies. Logistics operators and food aggregators can make use of this data to improve supply chain efficiencies, reduce transportation costs and minimise food wastage.
EVs in Intracity Transportation of Agricultural Products: While EVs can reduce the transportation costs by up to 70 per cent over their IC engine based counterparts, EVs equipped with on-board technologies can play a key role in improving efficiency of transport operations of a logistics service provider. Dynamic route planning, by analysing real-time conditions, can also reduce food wastage by minimising the transit times.
EVs in Indoor Farming: High-yield indoor farming techniques such as hydroponic farming and others can deploy EVs indoors to assist in harvesting so that not only the load carrying capacity and throughput can be improved but the pristine indoor farming environment can be maintained free of harmful emissions from diesel or gasoline fumes. Furthermore, these EVs can also be deployed to transport produce to the markets.
While the EV transition has been progressing at a faster rate in India’s urban markets, fleet electrification in suburbs, exurbs and rural markets requires a more active push by sound government policies. Investments in roads, charging infrastructure, stable electric grid and driver training can go a long way in minimising the teething issues of deployment of EV fleets in rural markets. Transportation of perishable products requires redundancy in fleet planning and usage of on-board technologies such as dynamic route planning, remote-diagnostics and service in order to protect the value of the products carried.
Today, agri-logistics stakeholders have realised that EVs can not only mitigate pollution and reduce operating costs but also play a key role through their on-board technologies in improving supply chain efficiencies, minimise food wastage and reduce overall cost of agri-logistics. Complemented by friendly government policies, investments in rural infrastructure and incentives for farm stakeholders, increased EV adoption in agri and agri-logistics can become a reality.
(Kalyan C Korimerla, MD & CEO, Etrio Automobiles. )