Despite being the world's largest banana producer, India is yet to become an efficient producer, according to annual wastage figures. With ripening cycle of just four days, the quality of bananas is greatly affected by environmental conditions and the artificial methods used until now to ripen them, said R.Krishnan, Chief Executive Officer, Rinac India Limited.
The company, which specialises in cold storage solutions, launched on Saturday, Bana Barn, a pressurised Banana Ripening Chamber (BRC) that promises uniform ripening and reduced wastages.
“Indians consume bananas throughout the year, irrespective of their economic status, which means there is a huge domestic demand for the fruit besides the international market. But farmers, traders and consumers alike have been affected by the unregulated ripening process,” said Mr.Krishnan.
Bana Barn, standardised according to specifications set by the government of India, comes in a variety of capacities ranging between 5 metric tonnes to 20 metric tonnes.
Explaining the technology behind the ripening chamber, he said that Bana Barn uses a multi-compressor rack refrigeration model that ensures uniform and energy-efficient ripening.
“The BRC comes as a unit of four chambers that allows the farmer/ trader to regulate the distribution of the produce. Also, they can choose to pause or hasten the ripening process to suit the market demand, thereby ensuring lesser wastage and higher profits,” he said.
Developed as part of the Cold Chain Task Force, a joint initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Confederation of Indian Industries, the BRC supports farm produce at the post-harvest stage to prevent wastage.
“Bananas being ultra sensitive to temperature are ripened at 14 to 16 degree Celsius with a relative humidity of more than 90 per cent.
This ensures lowered ripening costs, better quality and elimination of weight loss due to loss of moisture,” said Mr. Krishnan.
Having entered the market just two years ago, BRCs are yet to catch up amid Indian banana producers, who are used to ripening with industrial grade calcium carbide. “The government has now banned this method because of its negative effects on the nervous system by reducing oxygen supply to the brain,” said Mr. Krishnan, who added that there were other banana ripeners in the market that use the lesser efficient non-pressurised technology which cost lesser.
“The government is still allowing their sale because it is better than using no ripening mechanism at all,” he said. The government has declared a 40 per cent subsidy on the BRC's cost to encourage banana farmers and traders to switch to an efficient production method.
At a seminar organised later in the day, the company met prospective customers from the banana-rich Theni, Coimbatore and Tiruchi belt to answer their queries about the BRC.