Post-harvest technologies

Plantain is a staple food and major source of carbohydrates for millions of people in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific. The herbaceous plants require a tropical climate and fruit continually but it takes 6 to 8 months for the fruits to mature. The plants are often grown as a mixed crop with other agricultural products such as cocoa or yams.  The fruit is predominantly used for human consumption and is generally cooked by boiling or frying when mature (green) or ripened. There is great potential for the crop in improved production methods and post-harvest techniques.

Author: J. Tchango Tchango, A.Bikoï, R. Achard, J.V. Escalant & J.A. Ngalani
Technical Editor: Danilo Mejia, FAO
Last Reviewed: 14/10/1999
(pdf - 59pp - 1.5Mb)

Potato is an important staple food world-wide, claiming fourth place after maize, rice and wheat. It is a good carbohydrate source in addition to other nutritional benefits. Potatoes are cooked before consumption which reduces the presence of the toxic alkaloid solanine. Developing countries now produce approximately one third of world production, which was 314 million tonnes in 2008 (FAOSTAT). Though commonly consumed in its fresh form, the tuber is versatile and may also be used frozen, fried or dehydrated. Potatoes store for many months in optimum cold store conditions but losses increase dramatically under ambient conditions.

Author: Magno Meyhuay
Technical Editor: Danilo Mejía, FAO
Last Reviewed: 17/05/2001
(pdf - 56pp - 1.1Mb)

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Wild) is grown in arid and semi-arid areas of the Andes, but it is very adaptable and can be grown at sea level up to an elevation of 4 000 meters above sea levels. Its cultivation has spread to more than 70 countries. In 2008, Bolivia and Peru accounted for 92% of the world total of quinoa produced, followed by the United States, Ecuador, Argentina and Canada with 8%. In the most recent years, production in the Andean region has amounted to approximately 70 000 tonnes. Quinoa has a protein of high biological value with a high lysine content. It is used both in the human diet and as animal feed. The leaves and tender stems are eaten as leafy vegetables, until the beginning of the panicle phase, then the tender panicles are used for consumption. The ripe grain is also consumed, directly or in a processed state.

Author: Magno Meyhuay
Technical Editor: Danilo Mejia, FAO
Last Reviewed: 01/06/1997
(pdf 35pp - 395Kb, in Spanish)

Rice is a staple food for over half the world's people and has the second largest cereal production after maize with over 685 million tonnes recorded in 2008 (FAOSTAT). China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan are the biggest producers. Rice cultivation requires more water than other cereals and is more labour intensive.
Organization: International Rice Research Institute, Philippines (IRRI)

Author: Ray Lantin
Technical Editor: Danilo Mejia, FAO
Last Reviewed: 14/10/1999
(pdf 62pp - 0.4Mb)

Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal grown with a world production of over 55 million tonnes in 2008 (FAOSTAT). Most varieties are heat and drought tolerant, hence it is an important crop in arid areas. It is an important source of food in Africa, Central America, and South Asia and is also used to produce alcoholic beverages and biofuel.

Author: Food Security Department
Technical Editor: Danilo Mejia, FAO
Last Reviewed: 14/10/1999
(pdf 32pp - 0.6Mb)

Soybean is a useful oil and protein source and can be used to improve the nutritional value of traditional foods. The beans are processed to give soy flour, meal or milk products and the oil can be extracted leaving a meal which is used for animal feed.  The soybean is toxic to humans and mono gastric animals and requires heat treatment to destroy the trypsin enzyme inhibitors. Cultivation requires a climate with hot summers. The main producers are Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Paraguay and the United States of America with a total world production of 230 million tonnes in 2008 (FAOSTAT).

Author: Islas-Rubio, A.R. & Higuera-Ciapara, I.
Technical Editor: Danilo Mejia, FAO
Last Reviewed: 07/06/2002
(pdf 94pp - 1.0Mb)

Teff is a staple crop in Eritrea and Ethiopia where it is a native annual grass species but is not widely known around the world. The very small seeds are cooked or fermented and have good nutritional content. The plant is very adaptable to different conditions but is day length sensitive, requiring 12 hours of daylight to flower.

Organization: Institute of Agricultural Research Organization, Holetta Agricultural Research Center, Ethiopia (IARO)
Author: Alemayehu Refera
Technical Editor: Danilo Mejia, FAO
Last Reviewed: 14/05/2001
(pdf 60pp - 1.2Mb)
1 2 3 4 5