A young Indore-based entrepreneur has set up India's first three-stage sterilization plant that removes up to 99% chemical pesticides and other impurities from vegetables and fruits, government-approved pesticides residual analysis laboratory based in Nashik has said.
Thirty three-year-old Ravish Jain, chief executive officer (CEO) of Freshline Agro, after trying his hand at green house cultivation and organic farming started working on this technology of purifying vegetables using 'triple purified' ozone sterilization process in 2012.
Jain holds a degree in engineering and has followed it up with an MBA from USA. "In fact, it was in USA that I first came across green house cultivation and got interested in production of chemical-free vegetables and fruits," he said. Jain has now applied for a patent for the indigenously developed technology.
With full backing of his industrialist father Rajendra Jain, he started working on the project and invested about Rs 1.75 crore to build the first prototype of the plant.
"While some companies are offering home appliances for cleaning the vegetables using ozone technology, the end result is different from that of our process. Also, these devices are not effective in case of underground water," he said.
At a time when insecticide poisoning is a hidden public health problem in the country, this new technology can be of immense help towards attaining food hygiene.
A study by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India under the Union agriculture ministry in 2013 threw up some unpalatable facts on the issue. Common food items contain banned pesticides in quantities a thousand times more than the permissible limits. The findings are based on random samples collected from across the country.
Jain said that fresh fruits and vegetables are first sorted, graded and checked for quality and then go through the treatment process. "The produce is then dried using specially developed technology to remove excess moisture without altering the products inherent moisture content and packed according to customer’s requirements," he said.
At present, Freshline Agro is creating awareness about the benefits of sterilized fruits and vegetables through mobile vans that visit different colonies with the fresh produce.
However, buying of these products might just cost a consumer more as the purified vegetables and fruits are priced about 20-25% higher than market rates. The company is in talks with organized retail outlets including Reliance Fresh, Big Bazaar and Metro to sell their produce.