India’s ranking in terms of food security is not on par with its status of being one of the biggest producers of vegetables. According to a research, India produces 220 million tons of vegetables and fruits in a year but only 30 per cent of the production never reaches the table. The main reason for this waste is a lack of storage infrastructure, particularly at harvest-time.
Since India is one of the fastest growing countries and has the second largest population with agriculture being the source of income to nearly 60% of the total population, post-harvest and storage loss is still a major difficulty that needs to be addressed meticulously. Food preservation methods such as solar drying help in reducing food insecurity among farmer communities and will help in boosting the economy by supporting them with additional revenue source. Meanwhile, weather, weak demands, logistical issues, long credit periods and low shelf-life have been key issues plaguing the farming community for long. Despite good harvest, farmers have been facing risk of spoilage.
For this purpose, council’s lead partner Coverstro along with Vivunes, an organization based at Chennai focused on green energy, has successfully helped an entire community of 70 farmers in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri area finding additional source of revenue by just installing solar dryers. The mango farming community has acquired solar dryers, which will empower them to tap demand for dry resins in both domestic and international markets. The drying of multi-fruit bar comprises of six units of greenhouse solar dryers for MCI Agro Industries, Krishnagiri.
Covestro has also helped in establishing a fruit park, helping the farmer community in Krishnagiri to reduce wastage of fruits especially mangoes due to weak demand or weather-related delays. Many food preservation techniques like cold storage, drying, etc., have been evolved over the years to tackle these losses. The major constraint is that almost all the technologies utilize fossil fuel resources, which are depleting very fast and wise use of these precious resources are preferred for long-term energy sustainability.
While highlighting the impact of greenhouse solar dryer on agri-horticultural sector with Covestro technology, AP Prabhakar, Chief Executive of Vivunes, said that the Covestro technology is proving to be an effective solution for commercial scale drying with not much of skills required from farmers to achieve desirable standards. It was also further stressed that this technology will find extensive applications shortly with pan India presence owing to its vantage on usage of renewable energy and on current market acceptance of the produce dried with Covestro technology.
He further reinstated that Vivunes is very pleased to build an association with Covestro in promoting their greenhouse solar dryer technology to ideally break the boundaries and barriers on post harvest realisation of fruits and vegetables, manage excessive yields of seasonal crops and to enhance its value adding proposition. Sustainable methods for food preservation are the need of the hour and in India, solar drying is one of the most preferred choices and a promising technology owing to its vantage on utilisation of renewable energy. This initiative will enable farming communities to build more sustainable business and also contribute to the development of agricultural sector in India.