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Pomegranates, grapes up next for globalisation

US officials are presently in Maharashtra inspecting irradiation facilities as pomegranates and grapes prepare to follow recently cleared mango exports, reports Jacob P Koshy.

business Updated: Apr 16, 2007 21:57 IST

US Agricultural inspector are presently in the Maharashtra village of Lasalgaon, inspecting irradiation facilities as pomegranates and grapes prepare to follow recently cleared mango exports.

“Very soon, officials from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (Aphis) and our representatives will decide on the pest-control measures that have to be taken to facilitate export of these fruits,” said S. Dave, director of the Agricultural and Processed Food Exports Authority. Affiliated to the agriculture ministry, the Authority certifies fruit and vegetable to be disease-free and fit for export.

As Lasalgaon, Indian scientists from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai have set up test facilities for food-irradiation. It will be the first such facility to be certified by the US — mandatory for importing mangoes to the US.

“We still haven’t got their approval,” said AK Sharma, head, of BARC’s food technology department. “But within a week, I expect their clearance to come through.”

Mango exports from India were banned 17 years ago, as the US was wary of pests like the fruit fly and seed-weevil. The weevil grows inside the seed and can spread rapidly. Irradiation does not kill these pests but sterilises them — a condition acceptable to the US.

However, for mango exports to take off, there have to be many more US-certified irradiation facilities, like the one at Lasalgaon. And there is a list of other conditions as well: allowing mangoes only from specified orchards, fungicidal treatment prior to harvest, registering the packhouses with both Indian and US authorities.

mango crop package - graphic text (people speak) and box
Locals say…
The company purchased land from the villagers in 1992-93 on the condition that an iron and steel plant would be set up there. If not, the land would be returned.
Company’s response
Considering the energy crisis in Maharashtra, no major industry can start up. The state has invited JSW energy to set up a power plant, so the group has decided to do that first, before proceeding with other plants.

Locals say
The environmental impact report does not mention basic details — like the plant’s fly-ash pond location, the impact on mango, paddy, cashew, and fishery, and on freshwater sources
Company’s response
The company plans to use all the fly ash, which will be dumped only in an emergency. The exact location will be decided after detailed topographic surveys, geological and other meteorological parameters.

4000 MW Natural & Coal based Power Plant, at Shahapur, Raigad by M/s Maharshtra Energy Generation Ltd
4,000MW plant by National Thermal Power Corporation at Devgad, Sindhudurg
4,000-MW ultra mega power project, coming up at Girye, Sindhudurg (government will likely have to find an alternate location for this)
1200 MW coal-based thermal power plant at Jaigarh, Ratnagiri by JSW Energy Ratnagiri Limited
1000 MW Coal based TPP at Dolvi, Raigad, by M/s Ispat Energy Ltd.
22 MW coal-based power plant by Finolex at Ratnagiri

First Published: Apr 16, 2007 21:49 IST