A study by the International Society for Horticulture Science explains that in India, 30 to 40 per cent of perishable agricultural harvest like fruits and vegetables goes to waste every year. The wastage begins right from the harvest, to improper storage facilities, transportation and retail shops or markets. The primary reason for this is the lack of cold storage facilities for farmers.
To bridge this gap, Dr Jagadis Gupta Kapungati, a scientist at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research has come up with a device named ‘shelf life enhancer’.
Dr Jagadis: “It is an energy-efficient and a cheaper alternative to cold storage facilities. The device is expected to reduce the post-harvest losses in storage and transportation by allowing fruits and vegetables to ripen slowly. Through research we have also identified that the device can enhance the nutrient composition in the fruits and vegetables.”
“I have developed a first-of-its-kind formula that can generate low amounts of nitric oxide from natural resources such as leaves. This includes mango, banana, curry leaves, lettuce among others,” claims Dr Jagadis.
In 2019, after coming across the reports about agricultural wastage in the country, he decided to create a device that could release nitric oxide in small amounts and store the produce. Funded by the Biotechnology Industrial Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), and incubated at the FITT, Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, the prototype of the ‘shelf life enhancer’ was made using polyacrylic material, wood and plastic. Two chambers—one smaller than the other—were created to store the formula to produce nitric oxide and to place the fruits or vegetables. From the small chamber the nitric oxide is directed into the larger chamber in limited amounts.