Researchers look to nanotech to keep fruit fresh
Researchers are working on 'nano-film' packaging materials to extend the shelf-life of fruit and vegetables and reduce huge post-harvest losses in South Asia.
The project follows studies at Tamil Nadu Agriculture University (TNAU) showning that a nano-film that emits a chemical vapour can extend the shelf-life of vegetables by up to 21 days without any deterioration in quality.
Now, researchers at TNAU have linked up with collaborators in Canada and India to test such novel nano-materials on mangos during a 30-month project launched in March.
The project involves the University of Guelph in Canada, TNAU in India, the Industrial Technology Institute (ITI) in Sri Lanka, and MYRADA, a nongovernmental organisation based in southern India.
K. S. Subramanian, professor at TNAU's department of nanoscience and technology, told SciDev.Net that the average person in India consumes only 80 grams of fruit a day — half the recommended amount — despite the country being a top fruit producer.
"The main reason [for the low fruit intake] is post-harvest losses," said Subramaniam, who heads the research project. A lack of cold storage and cold chain facilities within India means that at least 40 per cent of the fruit harvested is lost — worth around US$71 million (four billion Indian rupees).
To tackle the problem, the researchers are developing nanomaterials impregnated with synthetic versions of an agent called hexanal, which is found in trace amounts in plants such as beans and cucumbers.
Article continues at ENN affiliate, Science and Development Network
Tropical Fruit image via Shutterstock