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Prevention of post-harvest food losses fruits, vegetables and root crops a training manual

Table of Contents

Rome, 1989

Acknowledgement is due to John Burden and R.B.H. Wills, who compiled the document, and Kellogg Smith, who reviewed and edited the text. Thanks are also due to Adrian Toet and Andrew Shepherd, who contributed to the preparation of this manual.

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

FAO, Rome (Italy)

Prevention of post-harvest food losses: fruits, vegetables and root crops.

(FAO Training Series: no. 17/2)

1. Fruits 2. Vegetables 3. Root crops
4. Post-harvest losses
I. Title II. Series

FAO code: 17 AGRIS: J11
ISBN 92-5-102766-8


Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is hereby granted without fee and without a formal request provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and full citation on the first page. Copyright for components of this work owned by others than FAO must be honoured. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or fee.

Request permission to publish from:

The Chief Editor,
FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla,
00100 Rome, Italy,

(c) FAO 1989


1. Introduction

1.1 The importance of post-harvest losses
1.2 Causes of losses vary widely

2. Nutrition and fresh produce

2.1 The contribution of fresh produce to human nutrition
2.2 Energy requirements
2.3 Food for body growth and repair
2.4 Loss of food value in fresh produce

3. Pre-harvest factors in produce marketing

3.1 Pre-harvest influences on post-harvest performance
3.2 Market factors for the produce
3.3 Influence of production practices
3.4 When is fresh produce to harvest?

4. Perishability and produce losses

4.1 What are the principal causes of losses?
4.2 Physiological deterioration
4.3 Mechanical damage (physical injury)
4.4 Diseases and pests
4.5 Types of fresh produce
4.6 The post-harvest physiology of fresh produce
4.7 Respiration
4.8 Transpiration, or the loss of water
4.9 Ripening of fruits
4.10 Post-harvest damage to fresh produce
4.11 Loss assessment

5. Harvesting and field handling

5.1 Handle with care
5.2 Objectives
5.3 Planning
5.4 Labour
5.5 When are conditions right for harvesting a crop?
5.6 Harvesting technique
5.7 Harvesting and field containers
5.8 Post-harvest hauling

6. Packaging of fruit, vegetables and root crops

6.1 Why packaging is necessary
6.2 Damage suffered by packaged produce
6.3 The cost-effectiveness of packaging
6.4 Selection of packaging for fresh produce
6.5 Packaging materials
6.6 Deciding on packaging for fresh produce

7. Packing houses and equipment

7.1 The need
7.2 Operations
7.3 Planning a packing house
7.4 Layout, construction and equipment
7.5 Packing-house management

8. Transport

8.1 Importance to marketing
8.2 Causes of loss
8.3 Reduction of losses during transport

9. Post-harvest treatments

9.1 Special uses
9.2 Curing
9.3 Inhibition of sprouting
9.4 Fungicide application

10. Storage

10.1 Controlled conditions
10.2 Storage potential
10.3 Factors affecting storage life
10.4 Storage structures

11. Preservation methods for fruit, vegetables and root crops

11.1 Processing avoids waste
11.2 Principles of fresh-produce processing
11.3 Processing and preserving methods

12. Marketing systems

12.1 Operators in the market
12.2 Types of markets

13. Marketing strategies

13.1 The goals
13.2 Supply of produce
13.3 Market information
13.4 Operating a market information system

14. Strategies for improvement in marketing

14.1 Development of a plan
14.2 Training of marketing personnel
14.3 Marketing research services
14.4 Assistance to small farmers
14.5 Role for entrepreneurs

Appendix I - Crop profiles

Root crops

Appendix II - Information and training sources