So what is post-harvest loss and why should we be bothered?
The expression “post-harvest losses” means a measurable quantitative and qualitative loss in a given product (FAO). The produce is damaged by pests, insects, improper handling, etc. Transportation and appropriate storage techniques are crucial in maintaining the nutritive value of the produce. Horticultural crops typically have high perishability, moisture content and a tender texture. Once the harvesting is done, high-value nutritious produce can deteriorate and rot in a matter of hours or days if not stored in proper conditions. So by the time the produce reaches your plate, there might have been a substantial loss in its nutritive value.
Now that we know what is meant by post-harvest loss and the possible causes for the same, let’s further divide them into different categories for the ease of understanding.
Plants are living things, the breathing mechanism entails the breakdown of food supplies and their aging. As the water inside their cell evaporates it directly impacts their weight. The reduced mass of produce results in economic loss.
There is a visible difference in the appearance of produce, especially green leafy vegetables that are kept for sale in the local market between two different times. Vegetable vendors in the local market frequently sprinkle water over veggies to make them appear fresh. They do so to prevent water loss, thereby minimizing the chances of wilting. Wilted leaves lose their visual appeal and also their volume.
Fruits and vegetables are very vulnerable to mechanical damage due to their tender texture and high moisture content. Improper handling, unsuitable containers, poor packaging, and transportation can easily cause bruising, cutting, breaking, impact wounding, and other forms of injury.
The produce that appears damaged doesn’t get sold at a good price. Also, there are high chances of microbial contamination, external damage such as bruising, cracks, and punctures produces sites for the spoilage microbe’s establishment and outgrowth.
These include sprouting, rooting, seed germination, which contributes to the quality and nutritional value deterioration.
Potatoes can be a great example to explain the developmental effects on the produce. The potato starts to shrivel as the sprouting process continues. As more and more starch is converted to sugar and is used for growing sprouts, it loses most of its nutrients and changes to a wrinkled, shriveled, sprouted potato which is not very palatable.
Significant post-harvest casualties are caused due to attacks by fungi, bacteria, insects, and other organisms. Micro-organisms quickly invade fresh food, since the crop does not have a natural protection mechanism and has enough nutrients and moisture to enable microbial growth.
Pathogenic micro-organisms are those that can cause foodborne illness. These organisms grow well at room temperature. Spoilage microorganisms, on the other hand, can grow well at temperatures as low as 40 ° F, including some forms of bacteria, yeasts, and molds.
Become an Urban Farmer-
Enjoy the Fruits of your Hard Work
Become an Urban Farmer-
Become an Urban Farmer in One Day
Enjoy the Fruits of your Hard Work
After harvest, fruit and vegetable cells are still alive and resume their physiological function. Physiological abnormalities may arise due to mineral loss, low or high-temperature damage, or unfavorable ambient conditions, such as high humidity. Physiological degradation may also occur naturally by enzymatic activity, leading to over-ripeness and senescence, a simple aging phenomenon.
Lack of market demand
Inadequate production planning due to lack of market information can cause either an underproduction or an overproduction leading to economic consequences. In areas where shipping and storage facilities are insufficient, this condition happens more commonly. If farmers are unable to transport it to people who need it in distant locations, produce can rot in their warehouses.
Consumption loss may be attributed to insufficient methods of storage at home, cooking, and preparing methods such as peeling, consumption types, etc.As consumers are unaware of the harvesting time, the food miles produce has traveled, one can overestimate its shelf-life and may not use it in its best stage and thereby losing out on good nutritive value.
• Lack of a clear understanding of packing house procedures. • Lack of understanding among the farmers, contractors, and even the policymakers. • Shortage of facilities. • Inadequate technological assistance. • Inadequate regulation of post-harvest efficiency. • Hit-or-miss marketing. • Absence of pre-cooling and cold storage.
What can be done to minimize post-harvest loss?
Post-harvest loss in fruits and vegetables can be minimized by proper cultural operations, harvesting, pre and post-harvest treatments, transportation, and storage.
Timely supply of water to reduce any water stress on the plant, as an interrupted supply of water can cause cracking in tomato, carrot, radish, etc.
Delayed harvesting period impacts almost all the plants. Harvesting of fruits and vegetables should be done during cooler parts of the day.
The produce should be stored at appropriate conditions, as different fruits and vegetables have different storage requirements. Cold storage inhibits to a certain extent, the growth of micro-organisms. . The area should be properly sanitized, and racks are to be kept away from walls to allow for cleaning and air circulation.
Packaging & Transportation:
Quick transport of fruits and vegetables to maintain the quality with minimum damage during transportation. Packaging protects from mechanical disruption, adverse physiological changes, and pathological degradation during storage, transportation, and marketing. Fruit and vegetable post-harvest losses can be significantly minimized and their storage life can be greatly increased by careful manipulation of these factors. It is also very important for retail customers to purchase fresh vegetables since the vegetables are frequently kept in the home for several days before they are consumed. Also, veggies lose their nutritive value over time, rotting of vegetables can occur if they are stored for a longer duration.
At Froots, we closely co-grow with the growers, using advanced alternative farming techniques & standardized best practices at the backend and serve as a discovery platform for consumers to ensure access to supreme quality produce.
Our vision is “Good food for all consumers and fair income for all growers, in the most environmentally friendly way“.