West Bengal Comprehensive Area Development Corporation (CADC) has started making new technological interventions with an aim of economic development of the farmers and the self-help groups (SHGs) in the state.
“A lot of production of the farmers and various packaged products of SHG like fruits, vegetables and fishes remain unutilised as they are wasted due to lack of storage infrastructure. This is where we are chipping in. We are installing solar dehydration machine at five places in the state to preserve and extend the shelf life of various foods,” a senior official of CADC said.
Such machines are being installed at Tamluk in East Midnapore, Debra in West Midnapore, Ayodha Hills in Purulia, Haringhata in Nadia and Siliguri. According to sources, mushroom cultivation by the self-help groups in Debra and parts of Jhargram during winter season has been yielding good results.
The storage facilities will help the SHGs to ramp up production. Similarly, dry fishes in Tamluk and tomato cultivation in Ayodha Hills are also expected to get a boost.
The famers are successfully cultivating millets in Kalimpong and are planning to extend the same to Siliguri with the technological intervention. Orchids that are cultivated in the Hills can also be stored in the infrastructure.
The capacity of the dehydrators depend on the product but on an average, each machine has a capacity to store around 120 kg. The machines are priced at Rs 2.33 lakh each.
Explaining the technology, the official said that a dehydrator uses a heat source and air flow to reduce the water content of foods. The water content of food is usually very high, typically 80–95 percent for various fruits and vegetables and 50–75 percent for various meats. Removing moisture from food restrains various bacteria from growing and spoiling food.
CADC is also installing ice plant machines at four places in the state, like Haringhata, Tamluk, Siliguri and Kaliaganj in North Dinajpur, mainly for the purpose of storing small fishes.
“Huge investment is involved for setting up big ice mills. But the ice plant machines come at around Rs 2.40 lakh each,” the official added. The technology by CADC has been adopted from National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) Hyderabad.
Minor interventions are also being made by CADC that come under the aegis of the state Panchayat and Rural Development department in developing
infrastructure of live fish vending machines at Tamluk. The machines, fitted at the backside of e-rickshaws, are helping people vend live fishes.