NATIONAL

India, Russia to set up agro irradiation centres

: Expanding their cooperation in civil nuclear energy, India and Russia are collaborating to set up integrated irradiation centres in India to reduce agricultural losses.

A bilateral agreement for cooperation in the development of a network of integrated infrastructure irradiation centres was signed between the Indian Agricultural Association, Hindustan Agro Co-Op Ltd (HACL) and United Innovation Corporation (UIC), a subsidiary of ROSATOM State Atomic Energy Corporation of Russia, on the sidelines of the BRICS Business Forum in the national capital.

The agreement is to be implemented through a Joint Venture and aims to set up 25 integrated irradiation centres. It was signed by Bharat Dhokane Pandurang, Chairman of HACL, and Denis Cherednichenko, CEO of UIC.

In irradiation, food products are subjected to a low dosage of radiation to treat them for germs and insects, increasing their longevity and shelf life.

In India, according to estimates, post-harvest losses in food and food grains are around 40-50 per cent, primarily due to insect infestation, microbiological contamination, physiological changes due to sprouting and ripening, and poor shelf life.

“The wastage of fruits and vegetables alone is about Rs. 60,000 crore annually. Including cereals, meat, pulses and flowers, the annual loss is estimated to be Rs. 2,50,000 crores,” Mr. Pandurang added.

He said that there were a few low level irradiation plants in the country, which are not adequate.

“The use of irradiation will make it possible to reduce the loss of onions in India, which currently go bad because of germination and inadequate storage, by 42,000 tonnes per year on average, as well as to reduce grain losses from [the current] 15 per cent to 3-5 per cent per year,” Mr. Cherednichenko said after the signing.

In the first phase, seven centres will be set up in Maharashtra, which will begin with the upgradation of the current centre at Rahuri in Ahmednagar district.

They added that the irradiation doses are recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the final product is absolutely safe.



Subjecting food products to a low dosage of radiation helps mitigate

post-harvest losses



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