1.3 What fruit and vegetables can be processed?
Contents - Previous - Next
Practically any fruit and vegetable can be processed, but some important factors which determine whether it is worthwhile are:
For example, a particular variety of fruit which may be excellent to eat fresh is not necessarily good for processing. Processing requires frequent handling, high temperature and pressure.
Many of the ordinary table varieties of tomatoes, for instance, are not suitable for making paste or other processed products. A particular mango or pineapple may be very tasty eaten fresh, but when it goes to the processing centre it may fail to stand up to the processing requirements due to variations in its quality, size, maturity, variety and so on.
Even when a variety can be processed, it is not suitable unless large and regular supplies are made available. An important processing centre or a factory cannot be planned just to rely on seasonal gluts; although it can take care of the gluts it will not run economically unless regular supplies are guaranteed.
To operate a fruit and vegetable processing centre efficiently it is of utmost importance to pre-organise growth, collection and transport of suitable raw material, either on the nucleus farm basis or using outgrowers.
1.4 Processing planning
The secret of a well planned fruit and vegetable processing centre is that it must be designed to operate for as many months of the year as possible. This means the facilities, the buildings, the material handling and the equipment itself must be inter-linked and coordinated properly to allow as many products as possible to be handled at the same time, and yet the equipment must be versatile enough to be able to handle many products without major alterations.
A typical processing centre or factory should process four or five types of fruits harvested at different times of the year and two or three vegetables. This processing unit must also be capable of handling dried/dehydrated finished products, juices, pickles, tomato juice, ketchup and paste, jams, jellies and marmalades, semi-processed fruit products.
Advanced planning is necessary to process a large range of products in varied weather and temperature conditions, each requiring a special set of manufacturing and packaging formulae. The end result of the efforts should be a well-managed processing unit with lower initial investment.
A unit which is sensibly laid out and where one requirement co-relates to another, with a sound costing analysis, leads to an integrated operation.
Instead of over-sophisticated machinery, a sensible simple processing unit may be required when planned production is not very large and is geared mainly to meet the demand of the domestic market.
The basic objective is to choose the location which minimises the average production cost, including transport and handling.
It is an advantage, all other things being equal, to locate a processing unit near the fresh raw material supply. It is a necessity for proper handling of the perishable raw materials, it allows the processing unit to allow the product to reach its best stage of maturation and lessens injury from handling and deterioration from changes during long transportation after harvesting.
An adequate supply of good water, availability of manpower, proximity to rail or road transport facilities and adequate markets are other important requirements.
1.6 Processing systems
It can be concluded that all three types of processing systems have a place in developing countries to complement crop production to meet food demand. Historically, however, small and intermediate scale processing proved to be more successful than large-scale processing in developing countries.
1.7 Choice of processing technologies for developing countries
FAO maintains (in FAO, 1992c), that the basis for choosing a processing technology for developing countries ought to be to combine labour, material resources and capital so that not only the type and quantity of goods and services produced are taken into account, but also the distribution of their benefits and the prospects of overall growth. These should include:
Knowledge and control of the means of production, local manufacturing of processing equipment and development of appropriate/new technologies and more suitable raw material for processing must all be better researched.
Decentralisation of activities must be maintained and coordinated. The introduction of more sophisticated processing equipment and packaging material must be subordinated to internal and export marketing references.
Choosing a technology solely to maximise profits can actually work against true development. Choice should also be based on a solid, long-term market opportunity to ensure viability.
The internal market should be given greater consideration, safeguarded and supported.
Training courses, at all levels, in processing and preservation of indigenous crops, must be expanded.
1.8 Fruit and vegetables - global marketing view
Fruit and vegetables - global marketing view
Contents - Previous - Next