After the United States, Australia and New Zealand can import Indian mangoes that have undergone a process known as irradiation.
While the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand has approved import of irradiated mangoes, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has also approved import of irradiated pomegranates from India.
“Irradiation is used as a quarantine treatment replacing chemical fumigants which is a pre requisite in these countries. Fumigants are banned in these countries since they react with the ozone layer,” said AK Sharma, head, food technology division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay, which has developed the irradiation technology.
Sharma added, “Now exporters will have to come forward and place their orders for irradiated pomegranates at the Lasalgoan irradiation facility at Nashik.”
India ranks second in the production of fruits and vegetables in the world after China. In 2007, India started exporting irradiated mangoes to the US – from 157tonnes to 290 tonnes this year.
Last year, the Department of Atomic Energy revised rules for generic approvals under the Atomic Energy Act.
The Atomic Energy Rules 2012 (Radiation Processing of Food & Allied Products) will allow enhanced commercial exploitation of the food irradiation technology on a wide product range for achieving sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards.
According to Suresh Bhagwat, former head, nuclear agriculture and biotechnology division, their technology has become popular and used by 103 educational institutes including agriculture universities, 42 research institutions and 28 private firms.