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New Delhi : Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) & Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in particular is engaged in extensive research on use of radiation processing for extending shelf life of food products.

Irradiation is very effective in treating agricultural produce to enhance its shelf life. Shelf life extension of agriculture produces is very much dependent on the produce, variety and storage conditions. Irradiation and proper storage substantially increases shelf life of fresh agricultural produce.

Unique advantages of radiation processing of products including fruits, vegetables, cereals, pulses, spices, sea foods and meat products are: Cold (no temperature increase) and clean process (no chemical residue), Effective elimination of harmful bacteria and insects/pests, Treatment after final packaging to avoid recontamination, and Significant increase in shelf life.

Research work on radiation technology at BARC has resulted in shelf life extension of potato, onion and phytosanitary treatments of fruits (like Mango, Pomegranate, etc). In case of potato and onion, sprouting during storage results in loss of quality and nutritional values. Mango irradiation was started in 2007.

Around 1,150 tons of mangos were radiation treated in 2017 for export to USA. Recently the harmonisation of food irradiation rules with the international regulation has taken place in India. This has provided classwise clearance of irradiated food items which will enable largescale deployment of this technology.

Application of nuclear techniques has helped in increasing productivity and production in agriculture. Experience gained by BARC has shown that using radiation for crop improvement is an efficient plant breeding method complementing the conventional methods.

DAE has developed 42 new varieties of crops using radiation induced mutation and conventional breeding. They include 15 varieties in groundnut, 3 in mustard, 2 in soybean, 1 in sunflower (total 21 in oilseeds), 8 in mungbean, 5 in uradbean, 5 in pigeonpea, 1 in cowpea (total 19 in pulse crops), 1 each in rice and jute. The major desirable traits in these crops include higher yield, seed size, improved agronomic and quality traits, early maturity and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses.

This was stated by the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Jitendra Singh in written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on March 7, 2018, according to a PIB release.


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