To improve the income levels of scheduled caste fruit vendors of Visakhapatnam District, the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, has sanctioned a project to GITAM (Deemed to be University). This project aims to train the fruit vendors on packaging methods, for fruit preservation, using natural and synthetic packaging materials. As part of the project, the university biotechnology department established a low cost controlled atmosphere storage facility within the campus. GITAM (Deemed to be University) Vice-Chancellor, Prof. K. Sivaramakrishna, inaugurated the storage facility in Vizag on Thursday.
While addressing the gathering he mentioned that the university is always trying to connect with the community for the benefit of society. He informed that the biotechnology department is actively engaged with several training programs which are directly helpful to the farmers, and the unemployed youth, in and around Visakhapatnam. The Vice-Chancellor announced that after the tenure of the present Supporting Entrepreneurs for Environment Development (SEED) Project, GITAM university is planning to establish a “fruit vendor’s cooperative society” in Vizag to hand over the storage facility for future maintenance.
The project’s Principal Investigator, Prof. Sk. Khasim Beebi, said that most of the fruits are getting rotten or wasted due to the lack of adequate storage, limited packaging and processing facilities, and inadequate access to cold storage. She informed that the fruit vendors, of the scheduled caste population with low income, will be selected from each village for the training program. The vendors will also be trained in packaging methods for fruit preservation using natural and synthetic packaging materials. The female fruit vendors will be trained for the preparation of jams, purees etc., along with bottling, and sealing using natural and synthetic preservatives, she added.
GITAM Institute of Technology Vice-Principal, Prof. M. Venkateswara Rao, hoped that the training programs, and the processing methods for the preparation, bottling and sealing of jams and purees, and selling to the retailers, will improve the living standards of SC fruit vendors in Vizag.