The recent crisis in Madhya Pradesh, where farmers had to sell onions at throwaway prices or dump it in farms due to bumper production has prompted the government to look at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) to set up irradiation facilities in the state and elsewhere in the country to deal with the problem of plenty by increasing the shelf life of perishable horticultural produce.
During irradiation, the horticultural produce is exposed briefly to radiation energy which not only helps in killing harmful bacteria but also increases the shelf life of the produce.
"We will ask BARC to set up such facilities in Madhya Pradesh and other parts of the country for onions, potatoes and other perishable horticultural produce. Bumper production can be dealt with through better post-harvest management. We have the technology and it can be used for the benefit of farmers," Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said.
He said BARC had recently agreed to transfer technology to increase the shelf life of litchi in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. "Scientists at BARC and National Research Centre on Litchi have succeeded in treating the fruit and preserving it for 60 days at low temperatures," Singh added.
The BARC’s Lasalgaon centre in Maharashtra, which was set up in 2002 at a cost of Rs 8-10 crore, has helped several farmers.The ministry has now pitched for making such facilities available in other parts of the country where farmers could preserve perishable produce and sell it as per demand and adequate price in the market.