Importance of fruits and vegetables and extent of post harvest losses

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post harvest losses

Importance of fruits and vegetables 

  • Horticulture plays a significant role in Indian Agriculture.
  • It contributes 30% GDP from 11.73 % of its arable land area.
  • India is the second largest producer of both fruits and vegetables in the world (52.85 Mt and 108.20 Mt respectively).
  • Fruits and vegetables are of immense significance to man.
  • In India, the fruits have been given a place of honour on being offered to God at every festival and have also been mentioned in our epics like Mahabharata, Ramayana and writings of Sushrutha and Charaka.
  • Being rich source of carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and dietary fibres these constitute an important part of our daily diet.
  • The dietary fibres have several direct and indirect advantages.(post harvest losses)
  • Not only this, fruits and vegetables provide a variety in taste, interest and aesthetic appeal.
  • Their significance in human life is being recognised increasingly in Western societies with the objective of minimizing the occurrence of the diseases related with an affluent life style.

Agri Exam Important 10000 Agriculture MCQ

  • Their lesser recognized benefits relate to their role in kidney functions, prevention of cancer and cardiac disorders through contribution of ascorbic acid, β-carotene and nonstarch polysaccharides besides the biochemical constituents like phenols, flavonoids and alkaloids.
  • A considerable amount of fruits and vegetables produced in India is lost due to improper post-harvest operations; as a result there is a considerable gap between the gross production and net availability.
  • Furthermore, only a small fraction of fruits and vegetables are utilized for processing (less than 1%) and exported (Fruits – 0.5% and Vegetables – 1.7%) compared to other countries.
  • Post harvest losses in fruits and vegetables are very high (20-40%). About 10-15% fresh
  • fruits and vegetables shrivel and decay, lowering their market value and consumer acceptability.
  • Minimizing these losses can increase their supply without bringing additional land under cultivation.(post harvest losses)
  • Improper handling and storage cause physical damage due to tissue breakdown.
  • Mechanical losses include bruising, cracking, cuts, microbial spoilage by fungi and bacteria,
  • whereas physiological losses include changes in respiration, transpiration, pigments, organic acids and flavour.

Fruits and vegetables extent

  • Losses occur after harvesting is known as post harvest losses.
  • It starts first from the field, after harvest, in grading and packing areas, in storage, during transportation and in the wholesale and retail markets.
  • Several losses occur because of poor facilities, lack of know-how, poor management, market dysfunction or simply the carelessness of farmers. (post harvest losses)

Extend of post-harvest loss:

  • It is evident that the estimation of post-harvest loss is essential to make available more food from the existing level of production.
  • A recent joint study conducted by the management consultancy firm, McKinsey and Co.
  • and (The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), at least 50% of the production of fruits and vegetables in the country is lost due to wastage and value destruction.
  • The wastage cost is estimated to be Rs.23, 000 crores each year. Swaminathan Committee (1980) reported the post-harvest handling accounts for 20-30% of the losses at different stages of storage, grading, packing, transport and finally marketing as a fresh produce or in the processed form.
  • According to Chadha (2009) India loses about 35-45% of the harvested fruits and vegetables during handling, storage, transportation etc.
  • leading to the loss of Rs. 40,000 crores per year.(post harvest losses)

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