Vegetables in secondary agriculture
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Currently, the value-addition is at a dismal low of around 2%. Besides, lack of infrastructure and proper temperature management, transit and storage further reduces the storability and marketing window for the fresh produce. Among the approaches that can be taken to reduce food loss and waste, secondary agriculture, i.e. value-addition particularly, low cost drying to prepare value added processed product always top the chart. Drying process is a major consumer of energy, about 20-25% in the food processing industry. It is being used as a valuable technology to reduce volume, preserve quality and enhance storability much beyond possible for fresh horticultural commodities since ages. With advancement in time, different drying technologies have come up. Several techniques of drying are used currently like hot air-controlled drying, spray drying, freeze drying, infrared drying, superheated steam drying, osmotic dehydration, microwave drying, hybrid drying methods etc. Notable among them being the freeze drying which is known to produce the best quality dried produce and air drying which is used most commonly due to ease in handling and cost efficacy. However, the major drawbacks in freeze drying are the long drying time and the higher energy consumption which lead to higher per unit cost of the dried product. The current times demand an intelligent, cost-effective drying system with the quality of dried produce comparable to their fresh counterpart.
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