How are Women Scientists leading research at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute!
The women scientists from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) have given a new meaning to the word “Annapurna” (Goddess of food) that is so frequently used for women. They are involved in developing innovative technologies to make it easier for the farmers to store their produce and also procure soft bajra and maize doughs. Women scientists hold the highest positions in several IARI departments, including biochemistry, plant pathology, entomology, nematology, microbiology, agricultural physics, agricultural chemicals, and agricultural economics.
Dr. Sangeeta Chopra (Photo: The Indian Express)
Farmers suffer a massive loss when their produce goes state before reaching the market. The pandemic made it more difficult for them. After more than five years of hard work, Dr. Sangeet Chopra, the principal scientist at IARI’s Division of Agricultural Engineering, developed Pusa-Farm SunFridge (P-FSF). It was created in collaboration with researchers from Michigan State University.
“The idea of minimizing post-harvest losses by having a cold store at the farm itself and running on solar power without any electricity from the grid, always interested me. Farmers usually harvest tomatoes, brinjal, okra, chili, beans, peas, fruits, or even cut flowers over multiple pickings. If their produce remains fresh through cooling, they can avoid distress sales and wait for prices to improve,” said Chopra, as quoted to The Indian Express.
(Photo: The Indian Express)
“The 10×10 structure is made from mesh and fabric that allows air to pass through it in a specific amount. The roof has retro sheets to cover them,” added Dr. Chopra, as quoted to The Better India. It is a type of cold storage that uses solar energy. It has 5 kilowatts of power generated by solar panels installed on the roof. Out of this, 3 KW is used to run the air conditioner and keep the fridge temperature at 3–4°C during the day and 8–12°C at night. The panel’s 105-watt submersible pump circulates approximately 1,000 liters of water from a tank through overhead PVC pipes. As the AC and the submersible pump shut down when the sun sets, passive cooling happens at night with the chilled water collected during the day.
Dr. Chopra has installed the P-FSF in Picholia village in Ajmer, Rajasthan, and Chamarara village in Panipat, Haryana. Recently, she has also built this fridge in mela ground in Delhi. This technology has been licensed to SND Infra Projects Pvt in Jaipur, and discussions about commercialization are underway.
Shelly Praveen (left) and T Vinutha (Photo: The Indian Express)
But that’s not all. The Biochemistry division of IARI has come up with a technology to extract gluten from wheat doubt and regenerate it in bajra (pearl millet) and maize. This technology was created by Shelly Praveen and T. Vinutha, and it will be useful in making soft chapatis and bakery goods.
Wheat contains 80% of the glutenin and gliadin. When water is added to wheat flour, these proteins come together while kneading the flour and add elasticity to it. As a result, the dough becomes light and fluffy. Since millets such as bajra, Maize, ragi do not contain gluten, the dough isn’t as soft. The addition of gluten from wheat to these millets solves this problem.
“The proteins extracted and dried into powder should also have the capacity for regeneration or forming gluten networks in the non-wheat dough. Soft atta requires the gluten proteins added in the flour to achieve proper networking for retaining their original viscoelasticity and water-absorbing properties,” says Shelly Praveen. Their ‘Hallur’ soft bajra flour with 23% protein, 15% of pearl millet, and 8% gluten can be used to make kachoris, cupcakes, cookies, and even pizza slices.
Women in the country are prospering in every field, and agricultural science is no less. There are women farmers who are working day and night on the field for us, and our female scientists are trying to make things feasible for them. We salute all the people who are involved in the process so that our families have food on the table.
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Originally published at https://www.fuzia.com.