India, Russia ink agreement to set up 25 Agro Irradiation Centres

India and Russia have signed an agreement for cooperation in the development of a network of 25 integrated infrastructure Agro irradiation centres. The agreement was signed between Indian Agricultural Association, Hindustan Agro Co-Op Ltd (HACL) and United Innovation Corporation (UIC), a subsidiary of ROSATOM State Atomic Energy Corporation of Russia. As part of the agreement, India-Russia joint venture (JV) will be formed in which HACL will have the majority 51% stakeholding. UIC will be a technology partner and will help set up the irradiation centres. In first phase 7 centers will be set up in Maharashtra in Sindhurg, Satara, Solapur, JNPT, Jalana, Napur and Pune.
Importance of Agreement
• For the first time paves the way for establishment of network of integrated infrastructure irradiation centres in India to reduce agricultural losses.
• These irradiation centres will help in treatment of perishable food items to improve shelf life and cut post-harvest losses.
• It will further increase basket perishable items for irradiation process on a commercial scale ranging from flowers to fish. Expand India-Russia cooperation in civil nuclear energy.
Why India needs strong network of Agro Irradiation Centres?
In India post-harvest losses in food and food grains are around 40-50%. It is primarily due to microbiological contamination, insect infestation, physiological changes due to sprouting and ripening, and poor shelf life. The wastage of fruits and vegetables including cereals, meat, pulses and flowers results in the annual loss estimated to be Rs. 2,50,000 crores. There is presence of few low level irradiation plants in the country which are not adequate. So to reduce the losses in food and food grains and meet the demand it is necessary to increase strong network of agro irradiation centres.

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