Post Harvest Management of Horticulture Crops

Horticultural crops include fruits, vegetables, root and tuber crops, flowers, ornamental plants, medicinal and aromatic plants, spices, condiments, plantation crops, and mushrooms. And they are the key drivers of economic development in both developing and developed countries.

Fruits and vegetables are the fastest growing farming sectors in the horticulture indutry. Since fruits and vegetables are highly perishable, efficient Post Harvest Management has become an absolute necessity. It is also important for effective exploitation of the export potential of fruits and vegetables.

India is the biggest producer of banana and mango and the second-largest producer of lime, in the world. India and China are world leaders in vegetable production. For brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower, onion, and pumpkins China is the biggest producer followed by India. India ranks first for green peas.

While the magnitude of loss in food grains is to the tune of 10%, the fruits and vegetable losses account for 35-40% due to improper Post Harvest Management.

This is not only the loss of productivity of crores of rupees but also wastage of labor, energy, and inputs involved in the production. So there is a need to have a strong post-harvest infrastructure for post-harvest management of these perishables. The marketing, storage, and packaging of both fresh and processed products play a vital role in the price stability of these perishable items.

This is not only a loss of productivity of crores of rupees. It also wastage of labor, energy, and inputs involved in the production. So there is a need to have a strong post-harvest infrastructure for post-harvest management of these perishables.

The marketing, storage, and packaging of both fresh and processed products play a vital role in the price stability of these perishable items. Here in this article, we intend to explore different post-harvest management systems with an in-depth guide.

Post Harvest Management Systems Of Horticulture Crops

Primary Processing

This is an important step. Primary processing includes grading, cutting, placing in bulk containers, and transporting to packing stations. By adoption of the technique of primary processing the packing station generally, removes the inedible parts. However, this garbage then goes for livestock feeding or producing value-added products.

Minimal Processing

Minimal processing includes steps like cleaning, peeling, cutting, slicing, and packaging. These foods have great demand because of their convenience. The preparation of vegetables consumes a substantial portion of the time.  Also, it generates a considerable amount of waste (30%). Therefore, ready to cooked vegetables are more appreciable items in urban areas and metro cities for working couples.

Appropriate Packaging

Appropriate packaging is the most important factor in storage and transportation. Furthermore, it hugely affects the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. The existing practice is using bamboo baskets, wooden boxes, and gunny bags. It adds additional freights to the extent of 15 – 20%. In addition, it induces 5-10% spoilage.

Environment-friendly corrugated fibreboard boxes with ventilation do not generate any garbage. These are recyclable. Therefore, it reduces solid waste generation and helps to maintain better sanitation.

Bulk Aseptic Packaging

Aseptically packaged foods are specially packaged foods that are sterilized and then packaged in sterile packaging materials. There is a tremendous market potential for not only the consumer market but also in the institutional markets. Because most of the fruit and vegetable-based industries use the pulp for the preparation of juice, jam, jelly, sauce, etc.

Furthermore, it helps to avoid handling fresh fruits and vegetables. Because they are highly perishable in nature and produce lots of garbage. A bulk aseptic packaging unit in the close proximity of the farm enhances the revenue of the farm owner.

Frozen Food

Freezing preservation is a method that delivers a product comparable in nutritional quality to the fresh products. In addition, frozen food is a very effective solution for price stability in horticulture produce. Due to the scarcity in the off-season period, people generally face a massive price hike.

Indigenous Fruit Processing

The indigenous fruits have an important role in satisfying the global demand. It is difficult to market these fruits in the international market as fresh. Therefore, you can process them to get an acceptable product. In this system, growers get a remunerative price and global consumers get the opportunity to enjoy the fruits in processed form.

Waste Utilization

Waste utilization is a very important factor in the processing industries. Packaging stations and processing factories generate a huge amount of fruit and vegetable waste. We can gainfully utilize the waste by making value-added products. Also, it helps in reducing the price of processed food and helps in solid waste management.

Cauliflower Leaf Powder

Cauliflower produces 60% leafy parts and 40% edible parts. Cauliflower leaves are rich in B-Carotene and hence are a good source of Vitamin A. Cauliflower leaf powder is a value-added product that is perfect for human consumption. In addition, after blanching and drying the stem pieces, you can use them as animal feed.

On-Farm Storage

Due to the lack of on-farm storage facilities, farmers can face the immediate quality deterioration of horticultural produce after harvest. For small and marginal farmers, it is quite a difficult task to establish this system. However, they can establish environment-friendly cool chambers to solve this problem.

Commercial Size Cool Chamber

In acute energy crisis and non-availability of the cold storage facility, you can establish commercial size cool chambers. The technology is developed utilizing the principle of evaporative cooling. This type of systems are very effective for the storage of banana, citrus, potato, tomato, apple, etc. in addition, you can also store onion during the rainy season.

Cold Chain

The cold chain encompasses all the critical steps and processes that foods and other perishable products must undergo in order to maintain their quality. However, these are very capital intensive projects. Major limitations include poor temperature management due to either the lack of, or limitations in, refrigeration, handling, storage, and humidity control.

To producers, high yields, good appearance, ease of harvest, and the ability to withstand long-distance shipping to markets are important quality attributes. Appearance, firmness, and shelf life are important from the point of view of wholesale and retail marketers.

Consumers, on the other hand, judge the quality of fresh fruits, ornamentals, and vegetables on the basis of appearance (including ‘freshness’) at the time of initial purchase. Subsequent purchases depend on the consumer’s satisfaction in terms of flavor and quality of the edible part of the produce.