New Delhi: The government is considering large-scale use of radiation technology developed by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) for improving the shelf-life of fruits and vegetables especially onion, potato and tomato in order to address supply shortages and check price rise.
The issue was discussed at a meeting of an inter- ministerial group called by Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari in the backdrop of a sharp increase in retail prices seen in tomato and onion in the national capital.
Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and scientists from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) were also present at the meeting.
Briefing the media, Paswan said, “BARC has developed a radiactive technology for preserving agri-commodities. We had an initial discussion on how this technology can be used on a large scale in the country to address supply crunch in some vegetables like onion, potato and tomato.”
With use of modern scientific technology, price rise in some vegetables like onion, potato and tomato – which normally occurs due to supply shortage during the lean period of July-October – can be avoided, he said.
Paswan said that many suggestions were made in the meeting. “One suggestion was that radiation centres should be set up at Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) and Food Corporation of India. Another suggestion was to establish such radiation centres in top cities.”
BARC’s radiation technology “sounds good” but further discussions need to be held on this issue, he added.
Nuclear scientist and Director RBI Anil Kakodkar said the radioactive technology was developed for some time in the country, while two radiation centres are already set up in Maharashtra but the plants size is small.
He also said that cost of radiation is not much as the process helps reduce wastage of veggies, while there are also no safety concerns as existing norms does not permit radiation beyond a permitable level.
Currently, Hindustan Agro Cooperative is using radiation technology for storage of two lakh tonnes of onions.
There are around 12 radiation plants set up by private firms for different commodities, but the technology is not widely used in the country.