"High-reliability, non-chemical disinfestation system of fruits and vegetables"
Start date: Oct 1, 2008,
End date: Jan 31, 2011
"The agricultural sector is a significant contributor to EU member economies. The European Union is the largest market player, contributing about 20 percent to the total fresh fruit and vegetable trade. Despite extensive production, pest infestation (i.e. all forms of insects) is a major problem in post-harvest processing, including in storage, packing and transportation of agricultural commodities. The quality of stored produce decreases rapidly due to pest infestation with cost implications for producers and dealers who cannot increase the time-to-market of their products. Pesticides in the form of fumigants are widely used during post-harvesting and are particularly suitable for killing pests, as on-field fumigation usually cannot guarantee absolute disinfestation. Pests can develop resistance to pesticides and often survive in the form of eggs or larvae. Furthermore, rain can easily attenuate the effects of fumigants. Despite the fact that fumigants help to control infestations, maintain the appealing appearance of produce longer and maximize storage time, increasing regulations on pesticide use and consumer selectivity of the foods they eat are creating a competitive threat to SME profit margins. Consortium SMEs have identified a clear need for the development of a system for the effective post-harvest disinfestation of fruits and vegetables. The proposed CLEANFRUIT system will consist of a reliable, non-invasive, rapid on-line disinfestation system using Radiofrequency (RF) technology that is economical and effective for treatment of a large range of produce. The commercial objective of CLEANFRUIT is to increase SME competitiveness by providing an effective alternative for pesticides which can increase storage to market time, allow consortium SMEs to more easily comply with EU legislation on pesticide use and meet consumer demands for healthier produce."
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