India: Artificial fruit ripening centre to be set up soon

Green bananas that turn bright yellow in a few hours. The same bananas, having black blotches on the peel later in the day. A taste that is not too fresh. These are indications of chemical ripening, which is becoming a real problem in the Indian state of Assam. It is also posing severe health hazards to consumers. The Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board has planned to set up an organic fruit ripening centre in the city.

The centre would be used mostly for bananas, and if required, even for papayas. It would have a capacity to ripen 20,000 bananas daily. Estimated set up costs: 10 million rupees (132.000 euros). The centre will have chambers to store fruits; ethylene will be injected into these chambers to ripen the fruits.

According to an article by The Assam Tribune, no electricity will be used at the centre as it will be run on biomass. A good chunk of bananas and other fruits which are sold in the city markets are reportedly ripened using calcium carbide. Use of carbide for ripening is prohibited by The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and action can be initiated under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1955 for any violation.

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