Brother, sister duo invents low-cost solution for preserving vegetables and fruits
03 March 2021
Two young entrepreneurs from Naya Tola Dudhela in Bhagalpur district of Bihar, Nikky Kumar Jha and his young sister Reshmi Jha, have come up with a low-cost solution for preserving vegetables and fruits fresh for 5 to 30 days, which would help avoid wastage of food in a big way.
Preservator/Sabjikothi is a wheel mountable storage for transportation of fresh fruits and vegetables. It is a cost-effective, microclimate based, portable storage that extends the shelf-life and preserve the freshness of fruits and vegetables anywhere between 5 to 30 days.
The entire setup can be unloaded from wheels, and can doubly act as on-field and on-market storage. It requires 20 watts of power and 1 litre of water and has battery backup of a day and an option of solar charging.
The USP of the technology lies in the fact that the entire setup can be assembled on any suitable means of transportation (E-rickshaw, mini-trucks, thelas etc) and it can transport contamination-free fruits and vegetables from field to market without any water loss and decay.
Sabjikothi currently comes in capacities of 250 kg and 500 kg, with price tags of Rs10,000 and above, depending on the needs of the user.
Sabjikothi works by construction of self-adaptable, ethylene oxidizing, and near-sterile microclimate in an insulated chamber. The controlled microclimate created inside the insulated chamber inhibit pathogen growth, delays browning as well as ripening and regulate activity of antioxidant enzyme. It also oxidizes ethylene into hydrogen, carbon di-oxide, water vapour and other small molecules which further creates a controlled atmosphere that enables the storage of fruits and vegetables for anywhere up to 40 days.
It is a self-sustainable solution that only require 20 watt of electricity either on-grid or off-grid, and a litre of water per day.
The invention, which was originally based on Jha’s MSc dissertation in Ecology and Environment Studies from Nalanda University, where he developed an off-grid cold storage device that could help reduce post-harvest wastage, particularly of horticultural produce.
This was later remodelled into a device for that does the job of preserving fruits and vegetables instead of providing artificial cooling. That was a joint effort of Jha and his younger sister, Rashmi Jha, a biotechnologist.
India is among the largest producers of fruits and vegetables in the world, but our per capita availability is low because post-harvest losses account for about 30 per cent of total production. To preserve their shelf-life, these crops require adequate cold storage facilities. Such facilities allow farmers to preserve their produce while also giving them the necessary time to sell at the right price. But establishing this sort of infrastructure requires large amounts of capital, electricity and extensive logistics.