By Albert Makendenge
Most especially for those farmers that are into the business of farming in order to make a profit, one sure way of increasing the margin between revenue and expenses is to avoid product or cash leakages as much as possible. To overcome post-harvest losses; growers, packers, shippers, transporters and retailers need to employ strict measures to get the produce from the farm and to the fork whilst keeping it as fresh as possible. Below are some of the measures to achieve this.
- Assessing maturity
Farmers need to make sure that the crop is at an appropriate stage when it is picked (for example when the produce has lost enough moisture). This ensures that quality is retained for as long as possible. Therefore signs of maturity have got to be well mastered for each and every crop.
- Proper storage
Make sure that the storage area is separate from the processing area. Make sure that the area is properly sanitized and that it allows for free air circulation. The storage facility also has to offer security from both thieves and rodents.
- Keeping the produce cool
Harvesting in the morning when it is cool and keeping the fruit out of direct sunlight is highly recommended. After harvesting, the produce should be moved immediately into a secure, dry and cool storage or processing facility.
- Avoiding injury
Cuts or cracks on the produce create entry points for microorganisms so these should be avoided as much as possible through the growth and development, harvesting, processing, transportation and storage of the crop