1. Agriculture World

Tamil Nadu Agricultural University Develops Nano Formulations to Protect Shelf Life of Fruits, Vegetables

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan

India is the second largest producer of Fruits and Vegetables. According to data, 18 percent of India’s fruit and vegetable production – valued at Rs 13,300 crore – is wasted annually. Two of the biggest contributors to food losses are the lack of refrigerated transport and the lack of high quality cold storage facilities for food manufacturers and food sellers. 

Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) has developed two Nano Formulations to help protect yield and enable farmers get better price. Two nano formulations – Fruity Fresh and Nano Sticker and Nano Pellets – out of the seven products that are in different stages of testing are expected to hit the agro market soon. According to Dr SD Sivakumar, Director, Agri Business Development (ABD), TNAU these products are cost effective also.

The ‘Fruity fresh’ and ‘Nano Stickers and Nano Pellets’ would increase the shelf life of fruits and vegetables and protect them against post-harvest diseases, said Director of Research, K.S. Subramanian.

The ‘Fruity fresh’, when sprayed 15 - 30 days before harvest, helped growers retain fruits and vegetables for six to 12 days compared to those fruits and vegetables that were not sprayed. Likewise, dipping mango post-harvest in a ‘Fruity fresh’ formulation extended the shelf life by a similar period under ambient storage condition and for 10 - 15 days under cold storage condition.

The ‘Nano Stickers and Nano Pellets’ had a similar function, Mr. Subramanian said and added the sellers or exporters could use them by placing them inside boxes meant for shipment.

The formulation, developed in technical collaboration with the University of Guelph, Canada, contains hexanal, which is generally ‘recognised as safe’ and approved by the US FDA, has managed to keep fruits and vegetables fresh, extend shelf life and protect from post-harvest diseases.

KS Subramanian, Director of Research and Nabard Chair, TNAU, said, “Nano science is no rocket science. Started with zero funding in 2009, the (nano science) centre has in the last 10 years grown in leaps and bounds. Thanks to the Canadian government for their long-term support, the centre today is ready to commercialise Fruity Fresh, which is an advanced nano formulation for enhancing freshness of fruits and vegetables.

“Pre-harvest spray of the formulation, two to four weeks prior to harvest, will help retain fruits in trees for an additional week to 10 days...., he  further added.

At the ‘Commercializing nano products and promoting market-driven nano research’ event, TNAU Vice-Chancellor N. Kumar said more products were in the offing.

He also said that the TNAU awaited patent on the two products.

Department of Nano Science Technology professor A. Lakshmanan said five more nano technology-based products were in the offing. The TNAU was working on using nano technology in agriculture inputs, post-harvest, crop protection and management and a few others.

One of the products that the TNAU would soon launch would be nano fibrillated cellulose or nano film, which could be used as a substitute for plastic. The film, made of banana fibre, would also extend the shelf life of products when used to pack.

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