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Organisation: Institut des Forets, Department Fruits ett Agrumes (IDEFOR, DFA)
Author: Achille N'Da Adopo
Edited by AGSI/FAO: Danilo Mejia (Technical), Beverly Lewis (Language&Style), Carolin Bothe (HTML transfer)


5.4 Improved techniques

5. Economic and social considerations

When we speak of rapid ripening of plantain in the system, the first thought is post-harvest losses. People then try to use another system, which is much more liable to reduce loss. A commonly recommended solution is to initiate methods to keep fruit unripened for as long as possible.

This principle conflicts with several problems:

- Actors are mostly interested in well-filled and high weight and short green life of the clusters. They know that filling of fingers (See Figure 20) and weight of bunch increase more and more with age. They seem to have no concern about the issues of diminishing green life of clusters;

Figure 20: Increasing of medium cross section of fingers (second hand, Orishele) during development

- The physical post-harvest losses are relatively low;

- Ripe plantains are demanded at the markets.

The price of ripe banana is at least equal to that of unripe plantain. The ratio of ripe fruit to unripe fruit can reach 1,5 and 2 in some regions, particularly during periods of less production. Figure 21 describes the price evolution of two bunches (one is Quality 1, the other is Quality 3) during commercialisation in an urban market place (N'da Adopo, 1996): the value of a well ripening cluster increases and after decreases at stage of super-ripening. The fact that sellers select their goods to accelerate ripening illustrates this point (See Figure 19).

Figure 21: Evolution of the prices of two clusters (quality 1, quality 3) in accordance with their ripening stage (N'Da Adopo, 1996)

Whatever the process used the technology of keeping the unripened fruit allows the increase of price, and mobilises the capital of the seller without any guarantee of sales at a later time. Along the same lines, the cutting bunches and packaging them in boxes causes an unacceptable level of expenses. The final cost of the fruit becomes inaccessible for the typical consumer.

The informal sector is very developed in producing countries and all the range of small jobs result from practices found in the usual network.

The "loader" (See Figure 22) earns 10 FCFA per bunch loaded into the lorry (For example, 5000F CFA for 500 bunches placed in a lorry of 7 tons) (See Figure 17). After transport, the "identifier", who arranges the bunches during unloading in the main urban market, earns the same amount. Generally, the "identifier" prefers to remove one finger per bunch. He sells these fingers retail in the marketplace. The other packers also share 10 FCFA per bunch.

Figure 22: An example of the complex commercialization channel providing Douala (Cammeroon) with plantains (N'Da Adopo, Fruits, Vol. 48, no 2, 1993))

At a rate of two or three lorries per week or eight to twelve lorries per month, these auxiliaries can earn 60 to 80 000 F CFA per month. This amount represents an important income in these producer regions of developing countries. One or several broken or uprooted parts during the transportation of plantain is not very significant during the wholesale process. These broken parts are useful as they are sold once the lorry is unloaded. This enables the wholesaler to pay off some permanent fees:

- Pay the one who arranges fruits once in the lorry and other packers, recover fees of loading;

- Pay the diverse municipal taxes on the market;

- Amortise the cost of transportation of bunches.

The fingers broken during transportation represent rather additional earnings for the wholesaler rather than post-harvest losses. These fruits are distributed at sale prices, obviously advantageous to consumers who cannot buy the best plantains or unbroken fruits.

5.4 Improved techniques

The earnings of the participants can be improved by decreasing the numbers of bad clusters that are harvested. These mediocre qualities are the result of bad cultivation, poor soil and diseases. The solutions are the concern of agronomic training taking place in the farms and the fields.

Improved handling and storage conditions can reduce the high proportions of clusters, which are sold at a discount by those transporting plantain in particular, the intermediaries. It is recommended that:




Non-Harvested Bunches


favour exchange between

Or Post-Harvest Losses In


the various actors by

Field Or In Farm


creating markets or collec-

caused by :


ting points in rural zones

low prices due to excess bunches or


intermediaries blackmails


develop processing


very lean bunches due to poor soils,


group the actors in coope-

pests and cropping system




no vehicle to transport bunches to


improve communication

regional or urban markets




no buyers


develop low price


methods to improve


cropping system


Rough Handling And Poor


build shelters in the markets

Storage Condition Meaning


Decrease Of Value Of





Create an information



network for plantain (quantities



for sale by area, prices, qualities


and export possibilities)


make training on quality


of foods


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