Indore : In what could be good news to local farmers growing fruits and vegetables, Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT) has announced plans to set up an Agricultural Radiation Processing Facility at Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar (DABH) Fruits and Vegetables Mandi for enhancing shelf-life of agricultural products.
Confirming the news, RRCAT director Dr PA Naik said: “10 MeV, 5 kW electron linear accelerators (Linac) have been indigenously developed for agricultural, medical and industrial applications. This Linac is under detailed beam characterisation for preparing it for setting up Agricultural Radiation Processing Facility (ARPF) at DABH Mandi this summer.”
The facility would have various safety interlocks to ensure safe operation. A computer based control system is designed for the facility to ensure proper processing of products.
An experimental product handling system has been made to conduct various experimental trials on different products for establishing parameters.
The Centre said that the facility would immensely benefit the local farmers whose products rot early due to varied reasons.
“ARPF is a gift of RRCAT to local farmers who sell their products through DABH Mandi. Now, their fruits and vegetables could have a longer shelf-life and they could get good value to their products,” said Rajeev G Nair, public relations officer at RRCAT.
He said that the facility is for fruits and vegetables sold locally but it could also felicitate exports if need be.
Foods and agricultural products are treated with ionizing radiation to accomplish different objectives like reduction of pathogenic bacteria and parasites that cause food borne diseases; or lengthening the shelf-life of fresh fruits, vegetables by decreasing the normal biological changes associated with growth and maturation processes, such as ripening or sprouting.
Radiation processing of food has become important due to mounting concern over food borne diseases, and growing international trade in food products that must meet stiff import standards of quality and quarantine.
A 10 MeV, 10 kW Linear accelerator based electron beam radiation processing facility is being set up at RRCAT.
The Linac has been developed by RF Section. ARPF is planned to be a demonstration facility where apart from regular radiation processing of agricultural and medical products, various issues like proper irradiation techniques, packing, handling and storage on large scale and economics of radiation processing will be studied and optimized.
The facility will be operated in electron (10 MeV) as well as photon mode (5 & 7.5 MV).
The product handling system is designed to process the products in different packing size with thickness varying from 8 cm to 45 cm and to deliver dose from 60 Gy to 25 kGy.
Typical mass throughputs are 22 tons per hour for potatoes (5 MV Photon mode) and1.8 tons per hour for spices (10 MeV electron mode).