FRUIT growers in the country have a reason to smile after the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) embarked on a project to enhance preservation of the fruits using nanotechnology to reduce post-harvest losses.
SUA Associate Professor in Horticulture and Plant Propagation, Theodosy Msogoya, said in Dar es Salaam that the project intends to test the effective of hexanal, a safe bio-compound as a pre or post harvest treatment using nanotechnology.
“Fifty per cent of fruits harvest get lost due to myriad of challenges facing the fruits agriculture in the country,” said the SUA Senior lecturer, who is also the team member of the project.
He said the project would be carried out in three municipalities for three types of fruits namely orange (Muheza), mengo (Mkuranga) and banana (Morogoro), saying three and half years project is supported by the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund.
“The pre or post harvest treatment will minimise post-harvest loss of fruits thereby enhancing economic returns for smallholder fruit growers,” he said.
Mr Msogoya said the project is aimed at testing pre and post harvest applications of ‘Enhanced Freshness Formulation’ saying they will use the combination of hexanal and anti-oxidants in sprays and dips for extension of fruit retention and improved shelf-life of treated fruit.
“The project will enable the fruit growers to preserve the fruits for three weeks after the harvest,” he said. The SUA senior lecturer pointed out that the project will develop bio-nanoparticles-based sachets and packaging materials for maintaining freshness of fruits during packaging and shipping.
“The project shall monitor socio-economic impacts on smallscale and marginal fruit growers largely women engaged in post harvest operation,” he observed.
Ms Fatima Riyami, who is the Association of Mango Growers (AMAGRO) chairperson, said the post harvest treatments will add value to mango fruits, saying the treatments will boost exportation of the fruits.
“The fruit growers suffer mostly from poor quality of fruits thus posing a challenge for them to export fruits,” said Ms Riyami.