Severe post-harvest loss and quality deterioration of fruits and vegetables mainly occurred during harvesting followed by marketing.
Most studies on post-harvest technology have so far concentrated on grains and other durable products, which are stored dry and a substantial technology has been developed to deal with these problems. Less work has been undertaken on the perishable food crops, yet they are of great importance in many parts of the humid and sub-humid tropics and contribute the staple carbohydrate portion of the diets in the developing countries. Ethiopia has a wide range of agro-ecological conditions with diverse verities of horticultural crops including temperate, tropical and subtropical crops. There are large numbers of fruits and vegetables that are cultivated for local, national and international markets. They are also crops of great economic importance with a prospect for local consumption, export markets, processing and play great role food security and poverty reduction. They are also important sources of nutrients, minerals and vitamins for human health and wellbeing .[ Review Journal ]
These perishable staple foods (fruits and vegetables) are very largely produced from small-scale subsistence level systems and the technologies employed in both production and utilization is usually simple and founded on long established traditional practice. Fruits, vegetables and root crops are living plant parts containing more water, and they continue their living processes after harvest. Fresh fruits and vegetables are crops with high water content and subjected to desiccation and to mechanical injury. Their post-harvest life depends on the rate at which they use up their stored food reserves and their rate of water loss. When food and water reserves are exhausted, the produce dies and decays. So that such perishable commodities need careful handling during harvesting operation and during Postharvest handling so that deterioration of produces is minimized as much as possible during the period between harvest and consumption. There is a report that total postharvest loss of banana as 26.5% where 56% of the loss was occurred at the retail level due to rotting before reaching consumers in Ethiopia . Besides, Post-harvest loss assessment of fruits and vegetables were conducted in Jimma and the result indicated that there were greater postharvest losses of mango (35.5%) and banana (40.0%) in Jimma town and the postharvest losses and quality deteriorations were mainly attributed to poor handling during transportation and the use of poor marketing structures to sell their fruits and vegetables .
Furthermore, severe post-harvest loss and quality deterioration of fruits and vegetables mainly occurred during harvesting followed by marketing, transporting and storage. Poor quality equipment and materials usage caused tremendous mechanical, physiological and pathological damages on fruits and vegetables . Similarly, there is an assessment report in Post-harvest loss of fruits and vegetables in South Wollo and indicated that; poor transportation, storage and unsatisfactory market situation are the main cause for postharvest loss .[ Journal Quality ]
Generally, producers (farmers), retailers, wholesalers, research institutes and other public and none governmental organizations need to have clear understanding of postharvest loss, causes of postharvest loss and quality deteriorations in fruits and vegetables crops in Ethiopia. Hence, the main objective this paper is to review on the major causes of postharvest loss and quality deterioration of fruits and vegetables in Ethiopia. This can be used as a good indication as all concerned bodies should aim for development of effective and efficient policies and strategies to solve existing problems.
2. Causes of Postharvest Losses and Deterioration of Fruits and Vegetables
Ethiopia has a comparative advantage in a number of fruits and vegetables productions because of its favorable weather, cheap labour, proximity to export market such as Europe and Middle East . However, the production of fruit and vegetable is much less advanced than the production of staple grains. Since Postharvest management of fruits and vegetables have not been give satisfactory attention considerable loss occurs at harvest and Postharvest phases and majority of postharvest losses for horticultural produce are difficult to measure . Even though the horticultural sector in Ethiopia is growing there is low and insufficient support for the improvement and reduction of postharvest loss and quality deterioration of horticultural crops were reported . On the other hand, an estimate of 15 to 70% of postharvest losses of horticultural crops in Ethiopia was reported . Thus, such losses during harvest are a major source of food loss and could be seen from food security and poverty reduction aspects in the country as such losses have direct effect on peoples livelihood and economy of the country as whole. Many researchers reported that the most common causes of postharvest losses such as lack of sorting to eliminate defects before storage and the use of inadequate packaging materials, rough handling and inadequate cooling and temperature maintenance .
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