* Mukul Sareen

2020 has been a year full of challenges but the year has also brought people together as a relatively stronger team.  While, this global pandemic has challenged people to find new ways of fighting hunger and malnutrition, it has also given a lot of focus on the role of technology, especially digital technologies in terms of improving nutrition and market opportunities. Due to this ongoing health crisis, promoting healthy diets to strengthen our immune systems is especially appropriate. Food loss and waste in the fruit and vegetable sector remains a challenge with considerable consequences.

Globally, India is the second-largest producer of fresh fruits and vegetables. As per another report, industry professionals and various researchers expect the fruits and vegetables processing industry in India to grow at a CAGR of 7.62% between FY 2018 – FY 2023 and achieve Rs. 256.4 billion value at the end of FY 2023. Currently, the commercial processing of fruits and vegetables in India is extremely low which is where technology has a key role to play. On top of this, with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a dire need to transform the way our food is produced and consumed by us. This is where technology  plays a key role.

Organizations are frequently investing in newer technologies and Research and Development programmes in order to improve performance, they are striving to deliver innovative ethylene absorption solutions.Today, there are R&D and service teams which can provide the best solutions. Innovative technologies have the potential in maintaining safety and quality standards, increasing the shelf life of fresh produce items.They are also excellent in terms of preserving and keeping their nutritional value intact.

We know that there is a huge demand for fresh fruits and vegetable more so when we look at  global markets. Globally, India is the second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables and its vast production base offers massive opportunities for exports. During FY 2018 India exported 391,283.8 metric tonnes (MT) of processed fruits and vegetables across the world, which was worth INR 34.04 Bn which automatically proves India’s potential as a country to grow in this area. But, the unfortunate part is that there is a shelf life attached to all perishable products and because of this reason, during the process of exporting these products, a lot of post-harvest losses take place which turns out to be a huge loss for the industry as a whole. This is where organizations like Keep-It-Fresh come into the picture. Their main aim is to curtail the post-harvest losses in order to develop sustainable products with the help of optimal technology. The company produces bio-degradable bulk bags, sachets, curtain filters, EA paper filter chips and papers.

The organization has witnessed phenomenal results for agripreneurs and the retail industry. For instance bananas life has increased up to 45 days using our Keep It Fresh Technology, Grapes by up to 60 days and Strawberries to 21 days.The aim of such organizations is to develop seamless solutions which have the potential to retain the freshness of fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, okra, mangoes, grapes, apples, bananas, for a longer period, leading to reduction in food wastage across the supply chain at every stage.

 Overall, a huge chunk of the exports is provided by the Indian agricultural sector  of which  fruits such as mangoes, grapes, bananas constitute a high percentage of fruit exports while onions, potatoes, tomatoes contribute the most to vegetable exports. Some of the major destinations for Indian fruits and vegetables include Nepal, UK, Malaysia, UAE, Srilanka, Oman, and Qatar, where the climate is not very diverse and favourable; hence these products perish very easily leading to a huge financial loss for the Indian Export market. Therefore, there should be a sense of urgency in terms of adopting the new technological standards as this transformation will only reap benefits both for people as well as the economy.

* Mukul Sareen is the Co-Founder of ‘Keep It Fresh’  – a leading manufacturer of various types of Patent Pending shelf life extension innovations and has descent of long term use in the commercial fruit and vegetable industry. He is also an industry thought leader and the Sales Director for Hi-Tech International, a 38years old group that has developed sustainable bio-degradable industry solutions and innovations for packaging and storage across sectors.