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.
- 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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