We wish to scale-up to have a show case exploiting the full potential of modern highly sophisticated technology in India and create a bench mark of new standards in our country.
We have collaboration with prestigious places in India and abroad. Our national collaboration includes Punjab Agricultural University and Centre of Innovative & Applied Bioprocessing (CIAB, DBT, GOI), Mohali, Punjab. Among our International collaborators in UK are a multi-national Covaris Flexibles Packaging Ltd., University of Lincoln, FRPERC, Food Refrigeration and Process Engineering Research Centre, University Centre Grimsby and EHC Engineering. A synopsis of our present initiatives is as follows:
OUR CURRENT INITIATIVES
Title of Newton Bhabha Bilateral Project with UK in a bilateral program is "Development and Optimization of Fresh Produce Supply Chain and Storage Systems".
This project will develop technological solutions to support the farm to packer supply chain of fresh produce within India. It will deliver novel low cost cold stores and biodegradable packaging systems which when combined will have a material impact in reducing post-harvest losses for multiple thousand Indian farmers. Empowering the farmers via the availability of small scale stores will help them manage stock availability, liquidity and market cost fluctuations. At the level of packer, we will develop world leading technology to enhance the control of large cold store systems. This will include the development of state of the art mesh sensor networks to monitor store temperature, humidity and gas levels which will enable an unprecedented degree of control, and therefore, the reduction in waste with quality improvement. The Indian consumers will receive a more consistent supply of good quality fresh produce.Specialized raw materials are Farm produce (Potatoes, Onion and Others).
We have identified additional three high priority areas are in Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Environment from primarily three projects on Biogas, Plant Tissue Culture and Silage. Biogas project will involve production by anaerobic fermentation from eventual existing 50,000 tons of potato haulms and additional organic farm waste including cow & buffalo dung and its upgradation to Biomethane, compression and filling in cylinders for use in cooking and as transportation fuel and/or for electricity generation. Plant Tissue Culture project will address three areas: a) For generating seeds of superior hybrid seeds of potato, b) Reduction in operating costs by lowering contamination and technological improvements such as development of better media and c) Development of protocols for new economically important plant species such as Hybrid Stevia, orchids and others. Silage project will use high yielding Maize and Sorghum hybrid available commercial varieties, validate use of mechanical harvester and baling machines of high capacity. Already in Punjab contractual harvesting of certain crops by contractual mechanical harvesters is in wide spread use. Silage making techniques in large and small scale will be validated. A trial to compare silage with green fodder for milk production for cows and buffaloes will also be undertaken. Silage will provide green fodder for milch animals all year round. Ethanol can be produced from waste potatoes for blending with petrol. We will be interested in scaling up-to 5000 tons annually on our farm in successive phases of increasing volume.
Our major focus is to reduce post-harvest losses. It is estimated that 40% of food losses in India. To increase our food production by 40%, we will need lakhs of Crores of rupees and at least a decade time to complete the task. Whereas by decomposition of food in post-harvest losses by anaerobic conditions, methane is generated and under aerobic conditions CO2 is generated, both are green-house gases.
However, "Food Losses" comprise of varied items such as grain (Wheat), Root Vegetables (Potato), Leafy vegetables (Peas), milk and milk products, meat (Chicken) and others. Reducing food losses in this heterogeneous category is thus complicated and the gains enumerated above should be weighed against potential cost involved in reducing food losses.
Due to lack of energy supply and shortage of food storage facilities, a staggering 1.3 billion tons of food production, one third of the total global food product costing the world economy about $750 billion (Rs. 47 lakh crore) according to UN Food and Agriculture Organization is wasted. India being the second largest producers of fruits and vegetables globally faces a bigger challenge, as one third of its produce also rots because of poor storage, transport and distribution. The lack of cold storage and infrastructure is one of the main reasons why food prices have spiraled and food inflation remains stubbornly high with wholesale inflation at 18.2% on food. The country's inability to preserve what it produces, or transport it at speed also means India is also not a significant player when it comes to exporting fruit and vegetables. Besides, this alarming increase in food wastage is generating huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions globally, thereby severely impacting the environment.
Thus refrigeration may play a very crucial role in maintain the temperature and humidity for fruit and vegetable storages. With more than 300 sunny days annually in the country, India can use an eco-friendly refrigeration system for cold storage applications using renewable energy such as, solar energy and biomass. The vapor absorption refrigeration system is one of the few options available before the industry to make use of the eco-friendly refrigeration technology for cold storage applications.
Energy requirement for refrigeration applications bears a huge share of total energy consumption globally. In the excessively hot climates it is necessary to reduce the temperature and humidity and create an environment suitable for storage of fruits and vegetables. But due to shortage of power in the developing world including India, there have been numerous losses in different form, for example, the wastage of food grains, fruits and vegetables, besides the vaccines and lifesaving drugs.
Apart from the wastage of the food produced, the resources lost in the form of inputs during food production are also considerable. For instance, 25 per cent of fresh water, used to produce food, is ultimately wasted, even as millions of people still don't have access to drinking water. Besides this, huge amounts of crude oil used to produce food are also ultimately wasted. Taking all of it into consideration, the actual worth of money per year in India from food wastage is estimated at a whopping Rs 58,000 crore. In addition, approximately 45 per cent of India's land is degraded primarily due to deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, and excessive groundwater extraction to meet the food demand.
Since solar energy is freely available and can be harnessed efficiently but intermittent in nature, it can be assisted by biogas besides, the waste heat from industries. The concept of exergy analysis will be used to evaluate the irreversibility and hence, the inefficiencies of various industrial processes that are responsible for increased consumption of our natural resources, higher environmental pollution and cost of the end products.