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SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction

Reduction of post-harvest losses in horticultural chains in SAARC Countries

  • Regional Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) Project - TCP\RAS\3502
  • Geographic coverage: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.
  • Low cost, high impact solutions for improving the quality and shelf-life of fresh produce in local markets: bananas, cauliflower, mandarins, mangoes, snap beans, tomatoes

Agricultural systems in SAARC countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) are dominated by smallholder farmers. Post-harvest losses in fruits and vegetables are high, ranging between 20 and 44 percent. These high levels of losses are largely the result of improper handling, transportation and packaging, poor storage and weak basic and post-harvest specific infrastructure, and result in seriously diminished returns to producers while reducing the net availability of these food commodities for consumption. An underlying cause of these losses is the limited awareness and knowledge base of stakeholders in the traditional supply chains where these losses occur. These high levels of losses also negatively impact on food availability, food security and nutrition. In addition, the safety of fresh produce is also compromised by the lack of awareness of chemical and microbiological risks in horticultural chains and mechanisms for mitigating these risks.

This project pilots the implementation of good post-harvest management practice to improve quality, assure safety and reduce losses in prioritised traditional fruit and vegetable supply chains in three countries – Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri-Lanka – of the SAARC region. A core of trainers (extension specialists, farmers groups, women’s groups, NGOs, farmer organizations and academics and researchers) will be trained in good post-harvest management practice in each country and support will be given to follow up training of practitioners (small farmers, supply chain actors/stakeholders, farmers groups and women’s groups). Simple, practical, and appropriate post-harvest technologies and post-harvest management practices will be introduced to enhance quality maintenance, improve the shelf-life and safety of fresh produce, reduce post-harvest losses, and add value.

Successes, failures and lessons learnt through the implementation of the country-level pilots will be analysed, documented and disseminated through the conduct of national training and awareness raising workshops in each country. Accomplishments of the pilots will be further disseminated at the sub-regional level, through the conduct of a sub-regional awareness raising and training of trainers workshop on horticultural chain management. A number of awareness raising materials –videos, brochures, posters, leaflets and pamphlets – will be produced for widespread dissemination across all SAARC member countries.

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