Food waste is a billion-dollar problem. Can this spray make a difference?

Mangoes hang from a tree in this illustration for the Context series Rerooted. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Karif Wat

Mangoes are the national fruit of India, but as many as half of the mangoes that are harvested in Krishnagiri district each year spoil before they even leave the farm. It’s part of a big problem that the world faces when it comes to its food supply.

Globally, more than half-a-trillion dollars’ worth of fresh fruit, vegetables and grains goes bad before it’s sold each year, according to consulting firm McKinsey.

A variety of solutions, from refrigeration to wax coatings, exist to keep fruit from spoiling. But researchers in India have been involved in a decade-long project to test out an innovative spray that extends the shelf life of mangoes by up to a week. We visited the mango hub of India to see how it works.

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