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Postharvest Technology of Horticultural Crops in Developed vs. Developing Countries

Postharvest Technology of Horticultural Crops in Developed vs. Developing Countries

The keys to successful handling of horticultural perishables, listed in the second to the fifth paragraphs below, are the same in developed and developing countries, but the extent of adoption of the necessary harvesting and postharvest technologies to maintain their quality and safety can vary greatly among countries and within each country, depending on the intended market and the return on investment, ROI (benefit/cost ratio) of these technologies. Availability and cost of labor, scale of operation, availability and dependability of electric power and its cost, and extent of utilization of facilities and equipment per year are important factors in determining ROI of harvesting and postharvest technologies. Availability and efficient use of the cold chain for handling fresh horticultural products is much more evident in developed countries than in developing countries. There is also great variation among and within countries in the extent of compliance with quality standards and food safety regulations, which is associated with the extent of participation in global marketing of fresh produce.

Recommended procedures regarding maturity and quality include: harvest at the proper maturity stage relative to intended use and marketing practices and periods; eliminate produce with serious defects, and inspect produce quality and condition when it is received; separate out produce that must be sold immediately, and place it on display first; and rotate produce when replenishing displays.

Temperature and humidity management procedures include: harvest during the coolest part of the day possible, and keep produce in the shade while accumulating it in the orchard or field; transport produce to packinghouse and/or direct-marketing outlet as soon as possible after harvest; protect produce on display from exposure to direct sunlight; ship packed produce to the market in refrigerated transit vehicles, and maintain proper temperature and relative humidity in display cases and cold storage rooms.

Procedures for minimizing mechanical damage include: handle produce with care during harvesting and hauling to the market or produce stand; use suitable materials-handling equipment; avoid drops, impacts, vibrations, and surface injuries of produce throughout the handling system; use shipping containers that will provide adequate protection for the commodity from physical injuries; and stack containers so that the pressure comes on the structure of the package, not on the produce.

Sanitation procedures to minimize potential contamination with plant and human pathogens include: train workers on their role in assuring food safety; wash produce with clean and disinfected water, then remove excess moisture if needed; sort out and properly discard decaying produce; and clean harvest containers daily, and clean reusable shipping containers, display and storage facilities periodically with water, soap, and disinfectants.

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