India and Russia on Thursday signed a pact to set up 25 integrated infrastructure centers for irradiation treatment of perishable food items to improve shelf life and cut post-harvest losses. At least 7 centers will be set up in Maharashtra, with the first centre near Shirdi to be ready next year. Perishable items ranging from flowers to fish will be treated there on a commercial scale. The agreement was signed between Russia's United Innovation Corporation (UIC) -- a subsidiary of Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation -- and Hindustan Agro Co-op Ltd on the sidelines of the BRICS Business Forum here.
"As part of the agreement, a JV will be formed for this purpose. About 25 integrated centers will be developed across the country, of which seven of them in Maharashtra in the first phase," Hindustan Agro Co-op Ltd Chairman Bharat Dhokani Patil told reporters. UIC will be a technology partner and will help set up the irradiation centers in India. The mode of investment and economic feasibility of the project is still being worked out, he said.
The 7 centers are likely to be established in Sindhurg, Satara, Solapur, JNPT, Jalana, Napur and Pune in the first phase. The locations in other states are yet to be finalised, he added. UIC CEO Denis Vitalyevich Cherednichenko said: "The irradiation centers that we are planning to design, build and put into operation will use the technology and technical solution based on gamma-facility and/or electron accelerator."
The exact cost will be determined after assessing the economic feasibility and completing relevant preparatory work, he said. "Depending on the technological solution used in the project and considering the selected options for the center, the average cost of the irradiation center usually ranges between $4 million to $20 million."
Within the framework of bilateral cooperation, it is considered acceptable to extend a network of integrated infrastructure centers for irradiation treatment in the UAE, Mauritius and Malaysia, he added. Radiation treatment is carried out in dosage recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and it neither reduces the nutritional value of food nor spoils their taste and appearance, Cherednichenko said. "This project will become an example of international cooperation in the sphere of nuclear technology development as well as the role of the peaceful use of nuclear power in addressing global challenges including those related to sustainable development," he said. Russian technologies are being used in 22 countries in 515 radiation plants, he added.