Farmers, traders trained on post-harvest handling of vegetables
At least 40 farmers and trader representatives were trained on proper post-harvest handling of selected highland vegetable commodities on September 13, 2022 at the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center, La Trinidad, Benguet.
Organized by the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera (DA-CAR)-Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD), the training introduced proper postharvest handling mainly on carrots, celery, cabbage, and potatoes to the participants to aid in the reduction of postharvest losses incurred from the time that the crops are harvested until its arrival to the outlet markets.
Dr. Edralina Serrano, Consultant and Former PHTRC Director of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños said that in the Philippines, losses in postharvest handling of vegetables are marked at 42-70%, thus, there is a need to transform the commodities into a more durable form through secondary processing.
Accordingly, the postharvest loss is a difficulty being faced mainly by the highland vegetable industry in the Cordilleras. While the archipelagic nature of the region is favorable for highland vegetable production, it is also contributory to the postharvest losses incurred by the farmers due to the prolonged travel time when transporting the produce to the designated trading facilities. The vegetable’s shelf life is affected by various factors such as temperature, ventilation, and humidity.
Various technologies such as refrigerated vans were developed to address the concerns. However, considering that it requires a significant budget, another approach recommended to minimizing postharvest losses is the implementation of the proper postharvest handling of the produce, accompanied by the use of food-grade treatments. Some of the highlighted postharvest handling measures that also aid in the prolonged shelf-life are the pre-sorting, trimming, cleaning, curing, waxing, grading, and packing. These topics were discussed by Dr. Serrano adding that the measures are also seen to prevent and/or control the spread of pests and diseases to the harvested crops.
Moreover, Dr. Serrano emphasized the removal of unwanted plant parts which include the discolored or severely malformed parts to further reduce the likelihood of disease spread. It is also important to incorporate into practice the removal of soil and other foreign materials, including pesticide residue and microbial contaminants from the surface of harvested crops, she added.
One of the attendees, Ms. Jumelyn Buya, said that the conducted training can help the farmers minimize their loss from harvesting to postharvest handling while providing quality and safe produce to the end consumers. “If there are introduced proper handling to these concerns, hopefully, it will be disseminated to all traders and the implementation should be strictly monitored,” Ms. Buya added.**AKLa-ao, AMAD