Mysuru: City-based Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), a premier CSIR laboratory in India, proposes to establish a dedicated plant at its premises to prepare food to be supplied during natural disasters. It has proposed to develop certain foods with a shelf-life of at least six months. The Institute has broached the idea with the National Disaster Management Authority, which functions under the Ministry of Home Affairs and has proposed to establish the plant if it gets special funding from the Government.
CFTRI has been supplying food to the affected people in calamities since Tsunami in 2004. The most recent disaster was the flood in Kerala and Kodagu last year and to Bhubaneswar during Fani cyclone. Relief foods were prepared at four of its pilot food plants which are otherwise facilities for demonstration on how its various food technologies can be commercialised. It does not have an out-and-out facility as such.
CFTRI Director K.S.M.S Raghavarao said, “Our idea is to keep certain foods ready for immediate distribution at the time of disaster takes place. Ready-to-eat foods with a shelf-life of six months can be prepared in advance and kept ready for distribution. No matter if they remain unused. Foods can be distributed instantly instead of waiting until they are prepared. It can be part of disaster management as well, minimising the response time.”
CFTRI Director K.S.M.S Raghavarao said that more nutrition-rich foods were on the anvil to address nutritional deficiencies among children, pregnant woman and lactating mothers. One such food is ‘soft sweet rice,’ a reconstitutable food product, most suitable for infants and children because of its taste, softness and nutrition value.
“It’s almost like payasam. The standardisation process is on and a launch is expected. It can be supplied to children in affected areas during disasters,” he added. Over the years, the CFTRI has also studied foods suitable for distribution depending on regional preferences.
“Since Odisha prefers rice, we prepared instant poha that is nearest to rice when we sent food to Fani-affected people. We have simplified poha preparation as well, focusing more on ready-to-eat food products. This is based on the feedback we got during the Kerala flood,” he said.
Shashikala, from the Department of Protein Chemistry, and Srinivas, Head, Grain Science Technology, said that the packaging was such that the food could be eaten by adding water into the pouch.