Ripening mangoes gets cheaper

Ripening mangoes gets cheaper
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Highlights

Every day, at least ten mango fruit traders visit the Food Research Station, Sri Konda Laxman Telangana State Horticultural University here, to find out if there are cost-effective ways of ripening mangoes after the High Court ordered the State government to check the problem of artificial ripening of fruits.

Sangareddy: Every day, at least ten mango fruit traders visit the Food Research Station, Sri Konda Laxman Telangana State Horticultural University here, to find out if there are cost-effective ways of ripening mangoes after the High Court ordered the State government to check the problem of artificial ripening of fruits.

The State Cabinet approved appointment of 28 Food Control Officers to track the menace. Traders and vendors who continue to ripen fruits will attract a six months jail term and Rs 1 lakh fine. With the cost of constructing a fruit ripening chamber costing Rs 1 lakh for a capacity of one tonne fruit, traders are now looking at organic ways of ripening fruits, which is a lot cheaper.

Dr A Kiran Kumar, senior scientist, Food Research Station, Sri Konda Laxman Telangana State Horticultural University says, “Fruit traders can ripen a tonne of fruit by just spending Rs 150 for ethylene canisters that are available in the market. Ethylene gas is a plant derivative and is not harmful and is accepted internationally. Calcium carbide has arsine and phosphine compounds which are carcinogenic.”

Dr Kiran adds, “The cost of ripening 10 tonnes of mango by using calcium carbide is Rs 3,000-Rs 5,000, while it is just Rs 1,500-Rs 2,000 by using ethylene gas. Mangoes have to be ripened by application of exogenous ethylene in air-tight chambers, says Prof Radha Rani of N G Ranga Agricultural University. “Traders are complaining that there is no provision for proper storage in Telangana State and to construct ripening chambers at such short notice is next to impossible,” she says.

Mohammed Iqbal, a mango fruit trader from Kothapet fruit market says, “If I were to construct a 10 tonne capacity chamber it would cost me Rs 10 lakh and none of the traders are in a position to do it. Moreover, unlike other fruits, mango season lasts only for three months.” Another fruit trader Md Salauddin of Sadasivpet says, “We are planning to use small ethylene cylinders that cost us Rs 2,800. We can ripen 30-40 tonnes of mangoes with it.”

Ripening chambers are fully automated, but fruit merchants seem to have found a way of ripening fruits by using ethylene cylinders in rooms by closing all windows and doors. Dr Kiran Kumar says, “In ripening chambers, 100-150 parts per million (ppm) ethylene gas is sent into air-tight chambers for 16-24 hours for the fruits to ripen. There is a provision for censors that give alerts when 100 ppm is reached. Though it is fully automatic, the cost is high.”

Fruit traders at the Gaddianaram Fruit Market say that constructing ripening chambers is impossible but a few traders are aware of the use of ethylene cylinders and canisters. Officials from the Telangana State Horticultural Department say that the government also offers subsidy to construct ripening chambers. For now, mango fruit traders do not seem too keen to construct ripening chambers fearing the huge costs.

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