Considering the environment in which the rural market operates and other related problems, like wastage of crops in a particular season due to various reasons, low grade crop production, contamination of crops, rotting of fruits and vegetables etc., it is possible to discover the effective strategies for the improvement of village products using new technologies for better marketing of these products. CSIR-CIMFR, Dhanbad is working on these projects.
1) Solar based Dryers
The solar based dryer is a cost effective system. The conventional form of drying which is used to preserve fruits, vegetables, grains, fish, meat etc. is the direct sun drying which is a free and renewable source of energy. But, there is a chance of damage of crops while drying by animals, birds, rodents, loss of nutrients due to the direct exposure to solar radiation. The solar based drying systems are the advanced form of drying in which the crops are placed in an in a closed system where temperature is higher and also there is a forced convection or ventilation technique used. Solar energy is utilised to run the system. Hence, it is cost effective.
The major advantage of the use of solar based dryers is the protection against pest, flies, rodents and less loss of nutrients as compared to direct sun drying.
The solar drying products only loses its volume but retains its colour and texture. Also, the produce can again be rehydrated by adding water to it. There are no operating costs. The products that can be dried are leafy vegetables, onions, tomatoes, crops, fish, amla etc.
2) Solar based Cold Storage
As per the available statistics, approx. 40 % of the perishable food products produced by the farmers get wasted due to poor transport and storage facilities. Since,the electricity in Indian village is erratic and disrupted by periodic cuts. Hence, for the storage of the food items produced, a solar based cold storage system can be employed. The said system utilises solar energy for fulfilling the power requirement.
The advantage of this system is that it will help farmers in decreasing the agricultural produce wastage by enabling them to store their easily perishable crops and then sell it later to the market. This will increase their annual profit and help them recover the cost of production. Although, the initial installation cost of the system is high , but on a log run, it is cost effective and also farmers will get benefit from it.
3) Farm Mechanisation
Farm mechanisation is the process of using agricultural machinery to mechanise the work of agriculture, greatly increasing farm worker productivity. The effective use of agriculture machinery helps in increasing the productivity of the farm by undertaking the farm operations timely and enabling the farmers to quickly rotate the crops on the same land. Mechanization also helps in animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries.
4) Food Canning Systems
Unprocessed foods are susceptible to spoilage by biochemical processes, microbial attack and infestation. The right post-harvest practices such as good processing techniques, and proper packaging, transportation, and storage (of even processed foods) can play a significant role in reducing spoilage and extending shelf life. One of the effective post-harvest techniques is canning systems for preserving fruits and vegetables.
Canning is a method of preserving food in which the food contents are processed and sealed in an airtight container (jars like Mason jars, and steel and tin cans). Canning provides a shelf life typically ranging from one to five years, although under specific circumstances it can be much longer. A freeze-dried canned product, such as canned dried lentils, could last as long as 30 years in an edible state. In 1974, samples of canned food from the wreck of the Bertrand, a steamboat that sank in the Missouri River in 1865, were tested by the National Food Processors Association.
Traditionally, waste is seen as an end product to be disposed off. But, Waste-to-wealth is a term coined to address the environmental problem by changing the traditional view of waste. The main aim is to raise awareness on this environmental issue of disposing waste or underutilisation of wastes and turn it into potential value.