The role of post-harvest management in assuring the quality and safety of horticultural crops

Horticultural produce plays a significant role in human nutrition by supplying vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and anti-oxidants to the diet. The quality and safety of horticultural produce reaching the consumer hinges upon pre-harvest factors as well as proper post harvest management practices throughout the chain, from the field to the consumer. Each stakeholder along the post-harvest chain- i.e. those involved in harvesting, handling and marketing of fresh produce- has a role to play in assuring the safety and quality of fresh produce.

Basic approaches to maintaining the safety and quality of horticultural produce are the same, regardless of the market to which this produce is targeted. This document reviews the factors which contribute to quality and safety deterioration of horticultural produce, and describes approaches to assuring the maintenance of quality and safety throughout the post-harvest chain. Specific examples are given to illustrate the economic implications of investing in and applying proper post-harvest technologies. Criteria for the assessment of post-harvest needs, the selection of post-harvest technologies appropriate to the situation and context, and for extending appropriate levels of post-harvest information are also discussed.

This bulletin is targeted for use by extension workers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who provide training and support to the small-scale post-harvest sector. It is also intended for use as a reference source by government departments and policy makers with an interest in development of the post-harvest sector.

It is hoped that the information presented in this bulletin is helpful in improving post-harvest management practices in developing countries, thereby leading to improvement in the quality and safety of fruits and vegetables.

      Quality management systems
AGS main series:
  FAO Agricultural Services Bulletins
  Adel A. Kader; Rosa Rolle
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