$2.3-Million Project Aims to Cut Fruit Losses in India, Sri Lanka

June 20, 2012 - News Release

University of Guelph scientists led by Prof. Jayasankar Subramanian will work with South Asian colleagues to develop innovative packaging using state-of-the-art nanotechnology to reduce post-harvest losses in mangoes, a vital fruit crop in South Asia.

The $2.3 million project, announced today by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), will improve livelihoods for nearly one-third of the populations of India and Sri Lanka, mostly small-scale farmers.

The Guelph scientists will work with researchers from the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in India and Sri Lanka’s Industrial Technology Institute.

The project is among six new initiatives funded by IDRC and CIDA under the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF). The five-year, $62-million project links researchers in Canada and developing countries to address hunger and food insecurity in the developing world.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with leading scientists and institutes in Asia to raise the income of poor farmers and make food more nutritious and secure,” said Subramanian, a professor in Guelph’s Department of Plant Agriculture.

“Invented in part at U of G, this new packaging system should reduce post-harvest losses in fruits in India and Sri Lanka, where optimal storage conditions are not readily available.”

Mangoes are the second largest fruit crop in India and third in Sri Lanka. Farmers lose 35 to 40 per cent of their crops ─ worth $800 million a year ─ because of poor storage.

The researchers will combine patented technologies to develop special fruit cartons, dividers and wraps lined with nanoparticles from coconut husks and banana plants. Using these farm waste products will help provide income for small-scale entrepreneurs, particularly women.

“The project responds to IDRC’s longstanding commitment to development through the practical application of science,” said David Malone, IDRC’s president.

“The technologies being developed will be applied to other economically important horticultural crops, including fruits, flowers, and vegetables around the world, including in Canada.”

Bev Oda, minister of international cooperation, added: “Canada is a world leader in the fight against hunger, and our partnership with IDRC plays a strong part in our efforts. Food and nutrition security remains a key priority of our government's development assistance. Our contribution to CIFSRF demonstrates Canadian leadership in assisting developing countries fight hunger through innovative practices and supports private sector growth in agriculture.”

CIFSRF now supports 19 projects involving researchers from 11 Canadian universities and 26 organizations in developing countries.

CIFSRF is a key component of the Government of Canada’s food security strategy, announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the 2009 G8 meeting.

Prof. Jayasankar Subramanian
Department of Plant Agriculture
905 562-4141, Ext. 134

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Shiona Mackenzie, Ext. 56982, or shiona@uoguelph.ca.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1