Pragmatic Approach Towards Mitigating Post-Harvest Loss by Lengthening the Ripening Period and Shelf-Life of Fruits and Veggies
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
The place selected has been recently reported to have a significant amount of yield after harvest mainly due to improper maintenance (lack of sustainable solutions for storing the post-harvest products). India incurs almost Rs 92,651 crore loss per year in terms of agricultural harvest leaving farmers with a scanty income. The project is therefore directed towards meeting the demand of an immediate post-harvest technology that shall not only decrease the loss but shall also, in turn, increase the farmer's income as a whole. India is the country where I was born in and therefore I am more connected to the causes of such problems. My undergraduate time period embellished my desire to discern the root causes of this problem and mitigate those. The situation of unbridled post-harvest loss is not only prevalent in only one or two states in India, but the majority of states are suffering from the backdrop of sustainable technical solutions. Kolkata is the major producer of many fruits and vegetables, therefore, solving the problem from this region in India would be an initiation to solving the real-time issue as a whole in the country.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Besides technical advantages, the product will impact lives largely. The most relieved shall be the farmers, who can easily afford the edible coat from the market at a much reasonable price and reduce their post-harvest losses. There will be an exponential increase in the income of the farmers as a result. Moreover, the proposed idea being in-line with the United Nations SDG's (Goal 1&2) will affect the global population on a larger scale.
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
Our project addresses the global problem inured to the post-harvest losses, where India alone incurs about Rs 92,651 crore ($13 billion) annually (due to lack of efficient technologies or loopholes in the cold-chain industry). The farmers are therefore the first ones to suffer (not only due to losses of their harvest but also due to an exceptional decrease in their income). In 2050, the problem is expected to grow even more if immediate efficient action-plan is not adopted to fight this cause. Therefore, the proposed idea solves this issue by adopting a much more pragmatic approach. We, Edi-COAT, are solving this problem by developing a much more efficient and feasible solution by increasing the fruit quality and its shelf life with an edible oil from fruit fibres such as Citrus Limon and Ocimum Tenuiflorum through a simple steam-distillation process which will eventually be coated on the fruits and veggies to slow down their ripening process (ripening, the main factor of post-harvest loss). As we are impeding the ripening process, we are also denigrating the carbon footprint drastically (as ripening releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and slowing it down would reduce the carbon emissions). Knowing that farmers won't be able to afford expensive cold storages (for storing their post-harvest products before being dispatched into the market), our solution is a cherry-on-the-cake. For 1 L of edible oil, it costs only 500 INR (today's market price is around 750 INR). The process is very simple to execute if done manually.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
The edible coat is generated or harnessed from fruit fibres such as Ocimum Tenuiflorum and Citrus Limon by the steam-distillation process. Once we have harnessed the oil-water solution, we add 10 ml of hexane into it to separate out the water from the mixture. The oil extracted is then applied or coated on the skin of the fruits or veggies. For experimental purpose, we have used 4 types of fruits such as Banana, Apples, Avocado and Lemon. All the fruits have shown an even increment in its shelf life by almost 2 days (which is drastic in terms of a fruit or veggie's shelf-life). The edible coat is performing the following functions: 1. Slows down the ripening process by inhibiting bacterial manifestation, thereby increasing the shelf-life of the product. 2. Retains 98.47% of all the essential nutrients in the fruit. 3. Reduce greenhouse emissions by lowering the carbon footprint. 4. Reduces the overall energy requirement by the cold storages to maintain a specific temperature for a certain cooling load. 5. Citrus Limon is a natural anti-oxidant which plays a crucial role in slowing down the ripening process of the fruits and vegetables. All the experiment practices have been performed in accordance with the Food Act. The experiment has been executed in different atmospheric conditions such as one with higher humidity and low temperature, lower humidity and low temperature, higher humidity and high temperature and vice versa. The atmospheric conditions have bee altered to meet the requirements of the farmers living in arid and semi-arid regions of the world too. For the experiment, fruit penetrometer and atomic force microscope have been used to gauge the viability of the processes involved. With a growth in the shelf-life, the overall cost involved as well as the post-harvest loss is efficaciously undermined.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
The entirety of the innovation proposed has a wide range of benefits, starting from the doubling of farmer's income by reducing their losses and also a step towards achieving sustainability in the agricultural sector. On one side, where the suicidal rate of farmers shall decrease with the betterment of their livelihood, on the other hand, communities shall grow and prosper. The research institutions will be engaged more closely with the farmers and will be motivated further to develop such similar, simple, yet innovative solutions on a larger scale. The farmers above all shall receive the exact payback they invested while farming. As the solution is easy to execute (rub and apply like a lotion), this will significantly hold the test of time.