FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Sri Lanka's first Multi-purpose Gamma Irradiation Facility (MGIF) was declared open at Biyagama Investment Zone February 17, 2014 with the participation of the Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa as the chief guest. The Atomic Energy Authority-run facility adjoining the Free Trade Zone in Biyagama will be used to provide facilities to sterilize medical equipment and medicine, plant quarantine services and to conduct experiments.
Sri Lanka has entered into Framework Equivalency Work Plan (FEWP) with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Exports to the United States will begin shortly.
Agriculture and medical equipment manufacturers, rubber gloves manufactures, exporters, patients and the general public will benefit from this facility completed at a total cost of Rs.760 million. The applications of MGIF include radiation sterilization of medical products, food irradiation, polymer modification (Hydro-gel films for wound dressing) and radiation vulcanization of Natural Rubber Latex (RVNRL). The Atomic Energy Authority provided the technical assistance under the Technical Cooperation programme of the International Atomic Energy Agency to set up the facility, the report said.
Sri Lanka indicated that the harmonized regulation on food irradiation would be adopted within two years to enable trade in irradiated food to take place. Successful commercialization of the irradiation technology appears to be dependent upon the opening of profitable and prospective markets. To this end profitable products have to be identified, international markets opened and consumer education strengthened. Spices appear to be a good candidate in this regard. Consumer acceptability studies indicated low preference for irradiated products in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka carried out decontamination of spices by irradiation and found that chili powder, pepper and turmeric were free from contamination even after 8 months of storage. Studies revealed that the total demand for spices to be irradiated was 351 tons. Results of the 5 investigation were submitted to the Atomic Energy Authority of Sri Lanka. In the near future Sri Lanka expects to establish a commercial irradiator once the ongoing R&D activities are successfully completed.
Consumer acceptance and market development of irradiated food in Asia and the Pacific.