Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Post Harvest Loss: A factor in food security:

The growing food crisis across the world has brought to notice the importance of managing food produced efficiently. Though the obvious solution to the problem may seem to be to increase food production, a more pragmatic approach could lie in preventing the post harvest loss of agricultural produce. Much of the food grown in developing countries never makes it past the farm gate, contributing to food insecurity. If this loss can be reduced significantly we may have found an answer to bridge the gap between demand and supply to increase food availability without requiring additional resources or placing additional burdens on the environment.

Post-harvest loss (PHL) is any loss in quantity or quality that occurs between the time of harvest and the time it reaches the consumer. It happens at every stage of the supply chain, but losses are most significant in the developing countries. Harvesting, drying and storage are all stages which see substantial losses, both quantitative and qualitative. Bio-deterioration by rodents, insects, infestations, fungi, birds, etc. is also a major cause.

Estimation of post harvest losses:

Though the post harvest loss is extremely significant and substantial, it is difficult to measure these losses and qualitative loss being more difficult to measure than quantitative. The impact of quantitative loss affects the developing countries more while the qualitative loss discourages consumers of the developed countries which lead to wastage at various levels. To estimate the loss one has to understand the following factors: the biological and environmental factors involved in post harvest deterioration, use of appropriate post harvest technology procedures that will slow down deterioration and maintain quality and safety of the commodities.

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