Causes of crop loss after harvest (Horticultural crops)
Causes of post-harvest losses
Horticultural crops not only provide nutritional and healthy foods to human beings, but also generate a considerable cash income for growers. However, horticultural crops typically have high moisture content, tender texture and high perishability. If not handled properly, a highvalue nutritious product can deteriorate and rot in a matter of days or hours. The causes of postharvest losses can be divided into different categories:
All fresh horticultural crops are live organs. The natural process of respiration involves the breakdown of food reserves and the aging of these organs.
Owing to their tender texture and high moisture content, fresh fruits and vegetables are very susceptible to mechanical injury. Poor handling, unsuitable containers, improper packaging and transportation can easily cause bruising, cutting, breaking, impact wounding and other forms of injury.
These include sprouting, rooting, seed germination, which lead to deterioration in quality and nutritional value.
4. Parasitic diseases
High postharvest losses are caused by the invasion of fungi, bacteria, insects and other organisms. Microorganisms attack fresh produce easily and spread quickly, because the produce does not have much of a natural defense mechanism and has plenty of nutrients and moisture to support microbial growth.
5. Physiological deterioration
Fruits and vegetable cells are still alive after harvest and continue their physiological activity. Physiological disorders may occur due to mineral deficiency, low or high temperature injury or undesirable atmospheric conditions, such as high humidity, physiological deterioration can also occur spontaneously by enzymatic action leading to overripeness and senescence, a simple aging phenomenon.
6. Lack of market demand
Poor planning or inaccurate production and market information may lead to over production of certain fruits or vegetables which can’t be sold in time. This situation occurs most frequently in areas where transportation and storage facilities are inadequate. Produce may lie rotting in production areas, if farmers are unable to transport it to people who need it in distant locations.
These losses can be due to inadequate preservation methods at home, methods of cooking and preparation such as peeling, consumption styles etc.
8. Other Causes of crop loss after harvest (Horticultural crops)
Lack of clear concept of packing house operations.
Lack of awareness among the growers, contractors and even the policy makers.
Lack of infrastructure.
Late realization of its importance.
Inadequate technical support.
Wide gap in technologies available and in vogue.
Inadequate postharvest quality control.
Absence of precooling and cold storage.
Inadequate market facilities, market intelligence and market information service (MIS).
Poor storage facilities.