Sunday, March 18, 2018


ICAR-IIHR to demonstrate solar-operated fruit & veg van at horti fair
Tuesday, 13 March, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
The advanced solar-operated fruit and vegetable vending van, which was designed by the ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Bengaluru and customised for the Karnataka State Co-Operative Horticulture Marketing Federation Ltd (KHF), will be displayed for demonstration at the National Horticulture Fair, slated to take place at the institute between March 15 and 17, 2018.

The institute is keen to ensure that other state governments will soon place orders for the van, which took it seven months to conceptualise and bring out the prototype. It has the capacity to vend between 250 and 400kg of fresh fruits and vegetables, which can be easily be sold in a day.

“Temperature and relative humidity management help store the horticultural produce up to 36-48 hours or based on the weather conditions. The 600-watt solar photovoltaic system, with an eight-hour back-up, and the layout of the racks with evaporative cooling, coupled with frozen gel packs help in effective temperature management,” Dr Harinder Singh Oberoi, head, Division of Post-Harvest Technology and Agricultural Engineering, ICAR-IIHR, told F&B News via e-mail.

Refrigerated vans have higher initial and operational costs. A 32-inch monitor displays the daily price list and an audio-visual system announces its arrival and departure of the van to the customers, besides communicating information about the government beneficial schemes.

An exhaust fan circulates air when the van is parked at night. The entire structure is fabricated using SS 304 with 50mm PUF insulation on the side doors. Food-grade crates have been used to store and handle fruits and vegetables. Arka high-humidity storage boxes, designed and developed by ICAR-IIHR, are used for the storage of green leafy vegetables. The van is mounted on a Tata Ace diesel operated vehicle which serves the dual purpose of transportation to short distances as well as retail vending.

“The primary focus for us was to reach the doorstep for the convenience of the consumer in a hygienic and appealing manner,” said Dr Oberoi.

The team comprised four scientists, including three agricultural engineers. Of these, two were farm machinery and power experts and one was from the agricultural processing discipline. The fourth was a microbiologist to assess the safety of microbial load and other quality parameters. The team was led by G Senthilkumaran and assisted by Carolin Rathinakumari and S Bhuvaneswari, besides Oberoi.

ICAR-IIHR has not designed any such van in the past. When asked if the van design was a first of its kind in the country, Oberoi said that different models were available without temperature, RH and electrical energy management systems.

“In the current energy crisis, solar sources are being promoted by the government. This is where institutes like ICAR- IIHR endeavour to promote green energy to save the environment and reduce dependence on other conventional energy sources,” he added.
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