Hebrew University researchers have developed a new technology to prolong the life of vegetables, which would go a long way to help break the cycle of poverty among the developing world’s rural farmers.
There are dozens of technologies that can help farmers grow healthier, hardier and better-tasting fruits and vegetables – many of them developed in Israel – but there are few technologies to extend the life of produce. While some fruits and vegetables can be kept in cold storage for months, others – like leafy vegetables – have to be brought to market within days, before they begin to wilt.
It’s a problem for farmers all over the world, especially in the developing world. Farmers who have no access to refrigeration – because of a lack of electricity, inability to afford equipment, infrastructure problems, or other reasons – are basically at the mercy of local wholesalers who offer them far less than their produce is worth.
Instead of taking their produce to the cities, where it can fetch the market price, farmers in rural India and Africa have to sell at below market prices locally, because by the time they get to the city, their produce will have gone bad. Selling their produce for subsistence wages, farmers get barely enough to live on and replant for the next season – and prolonging the cycle of poverty.
The new technology was invented by Dr. Rivka Elbaum, from the Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, Robert H. Smith Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture at the Hebrew University. It entails dipping the cut leaves into the solution, which is a secret, and has been patented in the United States and Israel.