University of Guelph and developing-country scientists awarded CA$2.3M to cut fruit losses in India and Sri Lanka using nanotechnology

GUELPH, ON, June 20, 2012 /CNW/ - Scientists from the University of Guelph, led by Jayasankar Subramanian, have teamed up with researchers from the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in India, and the Industrial Technology Institute in Sri Lanka, to develop an innovative packaging system that uses state-of-the-art nanotechnology to reduce post-harvest losses in mangoes, a vital fruit crop in South Asia.

The CA$2.3 million project, announced today by Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), in cooperation with the University of Guelph, will improve the livelihoods of nearly one-third of India's and Sri Lanka's population, most of whom are small-scale farmers.

The project is one of six new projects funded by IDRC and CIDA under the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF).  A five-year, CA$62 million dollar initiative, CIFSRF brings Canadian and developing-country researchers together to produce lasting solutions to hunger and food insecurity in the developing world.

"We welcome the opportunity to work with leading scientists and institutes in Asia to raise the income of poor farmers and make food more nutritious and secure," says Professor Subramanian. "Invented in part at the University of Guelph, this new packaging system should reduce post-harvest losses in fruits in India and Sri Lanka, where optimal storage conditions are not readily available."

Mangoes are the second largest fruit crop in India and the third in Sri Lanka. Farmers lose between 35 and 40% of their crops every year ─ an $800 million annual loss ─ because of poor storage. To reduce these losses the Canadian, Indian, and Sri Lankan experts will combine their patented technologies to develop special fruit cartons, dividers, and wraps lined with nanoparticles extracted from coconut husks and banana plants. By using the agricultural waste products from coconuts and bananas, new income opportunities will also be created for small-scale entrepreneurs, particularly women.

"The project responds to IDRC's longstanding commitment to development through the practical application of science," says IDRC President, David Malone. "The technologies being developed will be applied to other economically important horticultural crops, including fruits, flowers, and vegetables around the world, including in Canada."

"Canada is a world leader in the fight against hunger, and our partnership with IDRC plays a strong part in our efforts. Food and nutrition security remains a key priority of our government's development assistance," says Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation. "Our contribution to CIFSRF demonstrates Canadian leadership in assisting developing countries fight hunger through innovative practices and supports private sector growth in agriculture."

Today's funding announcement brings to 19 the number of projects supported under CIFSRF which includes researchers from 11 Canadian universities and 26 developing-country organizations. It also represents the third and final round of funding announcements in the first phase of CIFSRF, a key component of the Government of Canada's Food Security Strategy, announced by the Prime Minister at the 2009 G-8 Meeting in L'Aquila, Italy.

Join in the conversation through Twitter #CIFSRF and Facebook.

For more information about CIFSRF, visit: www.idrc.ca/cifsrf.

About the University of Guelph:
The University of Guelph is ranked as one of Canada's top comprehensive universities because of its commitment to student learning and innovative research. U of G is dedicated to cultivating the essentials for quality of life - water, food, environment, animal and human health, community, commerce, culture and learning. The University community also shares a profound sense of social responsibility, an obligation to address global issues and a concern for international development.

About IDRC:
A key part of Canada's aid program, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) supports research in developing countries to promote growth and development. IDRC also encourages sharing this knowledge with policymakers, other researchers, and communities around the world. The result is innovative, lasting local solutions that aim to bring choice and change to those who need it most.

About CIDA
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is Canada's lead agency for development assistance. CIDA's aim is to manage Canada's support and resources effectively and accountably to achieve meaningful, sustainable results. It also engages in policy development in Canada and internationally, enabling Canada's effort to realize its development objectives.


SOURCE International Development Research Centre

For further information:

University of Guelph: Lori Bona Hunt / 1.519.824.4120. ext. 53338 / lhunt@uoguelph.ca

For CIFSRF information: Isabelle Bourgeault-Tassé / 1. 613.696.2343 / ibourgeault-tasse@idrc.ca

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International Development Research Centre

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UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH

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