Mufti for trial of US-patented technology to enhance fruit shelf-life

In order to meet the ige huge challenge of maintaining quality of fruit in highly-competitive global markets, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed,Tuesday ordered trial test of a new patented technology which offers dramatic results in firmness and doubles fruit shelf-life in non-controlled room temperature environment.

He directed Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences, Kashmir, (SKUAST-K) to test the low cost-high result technology, which is being reportedly used in maintaining quality of 80 per cent US apple. “SKUAST will carry out trial experiments after working out modalities to see if our fruit growers can use this new technological intervention,” he added.

The Chief Minister gave these directions in a high-level meeting convened to discuss 1-MCP, an exposure-based technology patented and widely used in the United States.

Minister for Horticulture, Haj & Auqaf, A. R. Veeri, Minister for Agriculture, Ghulam Nabi Lone, Advisor to the Chief Minister, Prof. Amitabh Mattoo, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas and Commissioner / Secretary, Agriculture Production Department, M. A. Bukhari were present on the occasion.

Prof. Nazir Mir, a Kashmir-born scientist working in Rutgers University, New Jersey, US, who has done pioneering research in 1-MCP, also attended the meeting.

Referring to the difficulties countenanced by fruit growers in increasing shelf-life of Kashmir apple, Mufti Sayeed said the trial test by SKUAST will provide an insight into how useful 1-MCP will be in prolonging the shelf life of fruit, in particular apple. “Before we implement this technology, we need to see its ramifications through research,” he stated.

Describing the new technology as a useful proposition which provides insulation to fruit against high temperatures, the Chief Minister also emphasised upon transportation of fruit to outside markets in refrigerated vehicles.

I-MCP (Methylcyclopropene) is expected to will afford many fruit and vegetable industries the opportunity to deliver consistently high quality produce safely to the market.

As per available figures, out of the total 16.5 lakh MT apples produced in the state, only 35 per cent are high-quality that can be exported. In comparison, Europe exports nearly 80 per cent of its total apple produce.

The state is targeting to transform its Rs.3000 crore apply industry into a whopping Rs.15000 crore business over the next five years by rejuvenating orchards by adopting high-density plantations. However, this can only be possible by using benchmark technologies that ensure freshness of fruit once it reaches retail markets.

Briefing the Chief Minister about the advantages of the new technology, Prof. Mir said the fruit treated with 1-MCP is as good as the one taken out of Controlled Atmosphere (CA) store. “Given the volume of production, this technology is going to be very cost-effective,” he said, while spelling out its advantages.

Regulated by EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), US, the technology can only be allowed to be used in J&K after registration with the owners of the patent.

The Chief Minister was informed that only 50,000 MT of the total apple produce in the state is being stored in cold chains, with most of these established in Industrial Growth Centre, Lassipora.