Saturday, 27 November, 2021

Post-harvest Crop Loss Reduction: Gamma irradiation plant on cards

Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) is planning to set up the Bangabandhu Gamma Irradiation centre to reduce the post-harvest loss of agricultural products as the country loses crops worth Tk 200 billion every year.

Thousands of tonnes of vegetables and fruits go to waste annually in Bangladesh due to a lack of sufficient technologies and knowledge on post-harvest handling, packaging, storage and transportation.

A Gamma Irradiation centre uses gamma rays, X-rays or electron beams in agricultural products and food in controlled doses.

When the technology is applied to agricultural products and foodstuffs, harmful insects and pests, parasites, pathogens and micro-organisms are destroyed and the shelf life of the product is increased by preventing the decay of the product.

As a result, the post-harvest loss of the crop is significantly reduced. The process is being widely used in developed countries around the world to increase food security and boost international trade.

“If implemented, the centre will help reduce the post-harvest loss of crops and play an important role in boosting exports of agricultural goods,” said Dr Mirza Mofazzal Islam, director general of Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA).

Annual crop losses of onion, potato, paddy, pulse and mango is 20-25 per cent, 5-8 per cent, 8-9 per cent, 5-6 per cent, and 30-35 per cent respectively, according to an analysis of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) in 2019.

Each year 4-5 lakh tonnes of onion worth Tk 20 billion get wasted, according to BBS analysis.

BINA has already placed a Development Project Proposal (DPP) worth Tk 1.60 billion to set up the centre at Vanga in Faridpur, said the DG. 

“Feasibility test of the project has been completed and if the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approves, the project will be completed by this fiscal year,” said the DG. 

The capacity of the irradiation centre will be 85,000 tonnes per year and it can save agricultural products worth Tk 1.25 billion annually, he said. 

 “Irradiation centre can earn Tk 250 million in revenue per year as service charge while the stakeholders can store their crops for 3-4 months more after the treatment,” he said.

The modern irradiation technology will reduce 90-95 per cent of post-harvest losses of onion. ‍Similarly, the technology will also reduce post-harvest losses of cereal crops, pulse, ginger, garlic, green chilli, fruit and vegetables.

The use of radiation technology will create more opportunities for basic and practical research on post-harvest damage to crops.