Hyderabad: A city-based company has come up with a safe solution to ripen fruits without using the harmful Calcium Carbide.
En-Ripe, the new product developed by Heighten Innovative Solutions, is a fruit ripening powder avialable in a pouch. This is priced Rs 15 and is enough to ripe about 20kg mangoes, according to Madhava Reddy, Managing Director of Heighten Innovative Solutions.
According to him En-Ripe aids in post-harvest artificial ripening, which is crucial to fruit availability and subsequent consumption. Traditionally, purpose-built chambers are used for ripening. However, they cost about Rs 25-30 lakh and to avoid costs, many use Calcium Carbide, a banned chemical substance. Some were also found to be using Ethephon, which is stated to be a pesticide.
En-Ripe, Reddy explained, is based on ethylene, a naturally occurring photo-hormone that triggers various changes in the fruit and it obviates the need for use of harmful chemicals for ripening.
The two-layered pouch is a mixture of activated carbon, natural starches and several food-grade ingredients, which is processed and dried to powder. The powder is biologically safe, edible and non-toxic. It is then flushed with ethylene gas. The gas is absorbed but is later released in a controlled manner when exposed to the atmosphere to trigger ripening in fruits. The company has a capacity to make two lakh pouches per day at its unit near Shamshabad and is looking to ramp up it to five lakh packets shortly and later to 10 lakh pouches to cater to South India by next year.
En-Ripe, which is being marketed by TS Agros and available at Gaddiannaram Fruit Market and Warangal Fruit Market and other places, is recognised by FSSAI to be a safe and effective solution for fruit ripening. The CSIR–IICT (Hyderabad) has tested it to be safe and negative for heavy metals. It also confirmed that the gas released is high grade ethylene. IIHR (Hyderabad) confirmed absence of ethephon. Mangoes ripened using En-Ripe were found to have no toxic deposits by the Telangana State Food Lab. First Source Lab, the laboratory partner of the FSSAI, too tested negative for residues and heavy metal contaminants, Reddy said.
En-Ripe requires no additional infrastructure or controlled atmospheric, temperature conditions. It can be used anywhere including in transit. People with just one or two mango trees can also use this. The pouch is placed at the bottom of the fruit crate, which is enclosed in paper. It takes two-three days for one pouch to ripen about 20 kg mango, 48 hours for banana and papaya, 24 hours for sapota, custard apple and one day for degrading of citrus members like lemon, organs and mosambi. Testing is on for avocado, said Reddy adding that there is no requirement of temperature or atmospheric control.
With use of En-Ripe, the farm-chamber-farm logistics can be avoided thereby saving a large quantity of fruits that are damaged due to rough handling every year, he said.
On the fruit quality and shelf life, Reddy said fruits ripening by En-Ripe were seen to have better aroma, taste and lasted longer. Banana, though turning black on the outside, the fruit inside retained texture for several days after ripening. The reduced fruit handling and extended shelf life leads to less wastage. It also allows the farmers to ripen the fruits themselves to eliminate middlemen.
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