A guide to postharvest hadling of fruits and vegetables


Fruits and vegetables are highly valued in human diet mainly for vitamins and minerals. However, the present consumption of fruits and vegetables in Bangladesh is 126 g/day/capita (23 g leafy vegetables, 89 g non-leafy vegetables and 14 g fruit), which is far below the minimum average requirement of 400 g/day/capita (FAO/WHO 2003). However, according to HIES (2005), the consumption of fruits and vegetables including potato is 253 g/day/capita, which indicates a poor dietary status in Bangladesh. In this regard, the high levels of low birth weight (33%), underweight (41%), stunting (43%) and wasting (17%) among children less than five years; anemia among infants, young children, adolescent girls and pregnant women; and poor diet diversification are of particular concerns (BDHS 2009; BCIP 2010). The prevalence of overweight (12.5%) among women that has increased by 10% between 2004 and 2007 also indicate the existence of double burden of malnutrition in Bangladesh (BDHS 2009). A large proportion of Bangladeshi population is food insecure due to poor diet quality. The usual diet is heavily dependent on rice, and most of the energy in the diet is contributed by cereals. Rice accounts for 68% of the total calorie consumption in the year 2005. Therefore, even though rice is not a good source of protein, it constitutes about half of total protein consumption in the diet. High prevalence of micronutrient deficiency i.e. hidden hunger is common in the society, and the situation could be improved significantly by increasing the consumption of high quality and micronutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables. Due to tropical and subtropical climates, a variety of fruits and vegetables are grown in Bangladesh.

Unfortunately, a considerable proportion of the harvested produce never reaches the consumers mainly because of postharvest losses. The estimated postharvest losses of fruits and vegetables lie in the range of 20-40% (Wills et al. 2004). Hence, there is general support among scientists for the proposition that increased returns to growers and other stakeholders in the supply chain might come from proper management after harvest rather a further boost to crop production in the field. The principal reasons for postharvest losses are: (i) physiological and biochemical processes i.e. increase in the rates of respiration, ethylene production and transpirational loss of water, (ii) microbial decay, (iii) high perishability, and (iv) sub-standard postharvest handling infrastructures. Therefore, it is urgent to formulate national policy to reduce enormous postharvest losses, to maintain quality, and to elevate the rate of per capita consumption of fruits and vegetables of the people of Bangladesh. Reliable statistical data are meager to indicate the magnitude of postharvest losses of fruits and vegetables in Bangladesh. However, there 2 are some anecdotal evidences and inadequate reports on postharvest losses of perishables. Hence, a systematic research was needed to estimate the levels of postharvest losses, both quantitative and qualitative (nutritional), of the commercially important fruits and vegetables in Bangladesh. In the past, production-oriented research has received greater attention than postharvest research. Nowadays, postharvest quality and produce safety are considered the most important concerns of the rank and file of the society. There is enormous potential for fruits and vegetables for both the domestic and foreign investments if governemnt of Bangladesh addresses critical requirements like international safety and quality standards for this industry. From the foregoing discussion, it is clear that emphasis should be given to formulate national policy to minimise postharvest losses of fruits and vegetable, and the government would take initiatives and allocate resources to improve the postharvest handling conditions, and therby improve the socio-economic status of the stakholders in the fruits and vegetables supply chain.

The present attempt to publish a guide entitled “A Guide to Postharvest Handling of Fruits and Vegetables” is made to disseminate the outcomes of the research project along with some suitable postharvest management technologies to the stakeholders in order to minimize loss, and maintain quality and safety of fruits and vegetables in supply chain.

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A guide to postharvest hadling of fruits and vegetables3.2 MB
Date and language
Nov 2010
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Agrovoc terms: 
Postharvest losses
Agrovoc terms: 
Postharvest ripening
Agrovoc terms: 
Postharvest management
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Postharvest operation
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FPMU Documentation Center
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