Monday, December 29, 2014

Inventing "Banana"-A new claim by Indian Scientists!

It was in 1989 that a classic monograph was brought out from Mysore based on 2 decades of technological work carried out since 1969 by some stalwarts like Messrs V B Dalal, N Nagaraja, M.s Krishna Prakash, Paul Thomas etc who were pioneers in developing post harvest technology of Banana varieties grown in India. The monograph was titled "Banana in India-Production, Preservation and processing" and was a highly popular publication from the renowned food research institute, popularly known as CFTRI. Scientists who spent almost their life time on preservation and preservation of Banana must be appalled by a recent claim by the present authorities in this august organization that they have developed the technology for various products from Banana as if nothing had happened earlier! Look at the press release from the present head of this once reputed research agency which speaks for itself about veracity of these claims.

CFTRI to sign a MoU with Trichy based cooperative in January. Despite India being the largest producer of bananas in the world, lack of resources to handle the produce, storage facilities and post-harvest technologies, high post-harvest losses are reported. To address these issues, the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), in the city, has been developing technologies to reduce the losses One of the technologies that has attracted the cooperative sector recently is 'Clarified Banana Juice' from over-ripe bananas.Speaking to Deccan Herald, Ram Rajsekharan, Director of CFTRI, said, the shelf-life of fruits, especially bananas, is low. "A few days after harvesting, banana skin turns dark, prompting banana growers to discard them, as they cannot be sold in the market. Using the technology developed here, three products can be produced," he said. If the technology is implemented, even the darkened banana peel will not go waste. The peel can be dried and powdered and used as animal feed. The fruit can be processed to develop clarified banana juice, while the residue could be used to make high nutrition bars or as flavouring agents, he said. The shelf-life of the juice is about a year and the CFTRI is working on developing an aerated form of the drink. Rajsekharan said, the technology had caught the interest of a cooperative of banana cultivators from Trichy district, in Tamil Nadu. "They have been producing dried bananas to reduce post-harvest losses. Learning about the CFTRI's technology, the cooperative has held preliminary discussions with us," he said. He added that CFTRI was likely to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the cooperative in the month of January. He said, the CFTRI would provide all necessary training for the cooperative functionaries, with scientists working in collaboration with them. It can be recalled that the CFTRI had recently tied up with the Palakkad Coconut Producers Cooperative Private Ltd (PCPCL), a cooperative of about 26,000 farmers, to develop 'neera', a non-alcoholic palm beverage and its extended products.

The technologies referred to above were all transferred earlier and to state that these are new technologies reflects the ethical standards of scientists these days in general in this country. It is unfortunate that this comes immediately after another similar claim on turmeric processing which was touted as the achievement of the new regime at CFTRI. This tendency is also reflected by a press release recently from the same agency that they have invented a new grains called Quinoa though this was known in South America for centuries before! Probably this resembles the mindset of our present day politicians that citizens have too short a memory and they can get away with any thing and every thing which do not stand the test of truth. Of course transfer of the technologies developed earlier is the bounden duty and continuing function of the organization despite any regime change but what leaves a bitter taste in the mouth is to camouflage them as new technologies developed under the aegis of the new regime!


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