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Forecasts as to the extent to which the increasing demand for food in the world can be fulfilled over the next decades range from very cautious to optimistic. More concrete is the expectation that the necessary food supplies will have to be derived increasingly from the intensification of agricultural production rather than from additional land use. This will require a more judicious use of limited production inputs and may have repercussions on costs.

The reduction of post-harvest food losses is a complementary means for increasing food production. This draws its importance not only from a moral obligation to avoid waste, but also because the cost of preventing food losses in general is less than producing a similar additional amount of food of the same quality. Therefore, the concept of food loss prevention, to which attention was drawn by the World Food Conference in 1974, will afford mankind increasingly significant opportunities to meet its food requirements. The programmes that have been initiated so far at the international level, amongst which is FAO's Food Loss Prevention Programme, have focused mainly an the durable food grains because of their prominence in the daily diet. The perishable crops, because of their high moisture content, are inherently more liable to deteriorate, especially under tropical conditions. Fruits and vegetables provide basic food and nutritionally essential vitamins and trace elements and, moreover, have an important role in improving food flavour and acceptability.

This study, therefore, is concentrated on the perishables of plant origin and endeavours have been made to review the magnitude of losses, the places where they occur and the measures that can be taken to reduce them in the developing countries.

The findings and course of action to improve the situation are reflected in the Recommendations proposed by the Expert Consultation on Food loss Prevention in Perishable Crops, held at FAO, Rome, in May 1980, and are listed below:

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