Oilseeds and pulses are staple foods for millions of poor people in developing countries, and are these days developing an even more important role as cash crops. The most important crops in these categories are oilpalm, beans (soybean, cowpeas, broad beans, red beans) and groundnuts. Further can be mentioned cashew, sheanut, sesame, sunflower, coconut and olives. Oilseeds and pulses add important nutritional value to the diet by high quality protein and/or vegetable oil, together with oil soluble vitamins like vitamin A.
The postharvest practices for most of the seeds and beans consists of threshing, shelling or podding and drying, after which the product can be stored like grains. Critical in the drying and storage process is the prevention of contamination with fungi and aflatoxin. Oilpalm fruits need to be processed into palmoil soon after harvest. After the on-farm post-harvest operations the products find ready markets to consumers and/or the agro-processing industry. In addition to the primary products, oilseeds and pulses produce significant quantities of by-products or ‘wastes’, like shells, fibres, pods, which can be used as fuel or animal feed.
FAO supports the farmers in their postharvest operations by technology development and dissemination, training in quality management and marketing, and utilization of by-products.