Postharvest Technology for Southeast Asian Perishable Crops (2nd Edition)

  • The most comprehensive reference or textbook on postharvest handling of tropical fruits, vegetables and florist crops
  • The only one of its kind in Southeast Asia
  • Written by well-known University of the Philippines (UP) postharvest scientists
  • Reviewed by postharvest scientists and practitioners in Southeast Asia, the USA, Canada and the Philippines

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fruit Crops Postharvest Research Team of CA-CSC: 2009 Outstanding Research Team

A story of dedication behind fruits in grocery shelves

By Josephine M. Bo

Blemish-free. Perfectly sized. Firm, even-colored, and even-textured flesh. Evidently safe to eat. These are just some characteristics of fruits that make it to grocery shelves around the globe, with the potential to generate income for our farmers and beef up our exports. But even as the country produces an overabundance of fruits, until lately, it has not been able to capitalize much on this natural resource for a host of reasons, among which is their limited postharvest life.

Fruit postharvest losses in the Philippines can run up to an average of 28 percent, occurring during harvest, packing, transport, displaying, and even during consumption. Postharvest losses are caused by mishandling, poor storage, inefficiency in the distribution system, and pest and disease damage. Exacerbating the losses caused by factors inherent in the fruits and in our climate are poor infrastructure, transport limitations, the archipelagic nature of our country, and lack of technology.

But much has been done in the latter area in the recent past. In UPLB, the Fruit Crops Postharvest Research Team of the Crop Science Cluster, College of Agriculture has contributed in great measure to push the frontiers of postharvest technology. The Team has been conducting basic and applied research toward industry-focused and needs-based technology development to address food safety and quality concerns in the export and domestic markets.
In 2007, China, a formidable export market, imposed quarantine treatment after it imported and intercepted Philippine mangoes infested with fruit flies. Quarantine meant using expensive vapor heat treatment to which exporters resisted. The team developed a cheap alternative with the “Extended Hot Water Dip” (EHWD) that is approved by China and is now used on 1.8 million kg. mangoes (exported annually to its various cities and provinces).

The team also designed and fabricated an LPG-fueled EHWD hot water tank that can treat 230 kg of mangoes at a time. Private commercial companies and entrepreneurs and farmers in six regions where mango is a priority use the hot water tank.

With the help of a UPLB plant pathologist, the team developed an integrated disease management program as an integral component for controlled atmosphere (CA) sea shipment of mango fruits to Europe, North America, and the Middle East. This brought down disease incidence during stationary sea shipment trials from 40-70 percent to only 2 percent. Also, the irradiation and 28-day CA storage of mango did not affect fruit quality. This is expected to firm up the market for Philippine mangoes in the US.

Mango exporters to Hong Kong and Japan as well as suppliers to Manila groceries and supermarkets adopted a modified hot water treatment (HWT) for disease control developed by the team. The modified HWT brought down the conventional 20-minute treatment to a rapid one-minute treatment, freeing up what exporters had considered a bottleneck in mango packing.

The team has also developed a combined HWT and modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) protocol to extend the shelf life of calamansi. During the 23-day marketing trial in the EU markets, calamansi subjected to these treatments did not shrivel and turn yellow. Calamansi has an export demand of one ton/week in the EU and the UAE.

Using a chemical that counters the action of the ripening hormone ethylene, the team was able to extend the storage life of banana and papaya to 21 days and delay the ripening of Solo and Sinta papaya varieties. This technology has great potential for the shipment of fruits to China and the Middle East. The team is also now studying local materials to substitute expensive imported waxes as coating materials to extend fruit shelf life and keep it blemish-free.

Another knowledge product that the team generated is the use of mathematical models to predict conditions during MAP. The team employed time-saving mathematical models to determine optimum packaging conditions rather than “pack and pray” for success in using MAP considering variable temperature, respiration rate of the fruit or vegetable, and plastic film characteristics.

With its expertise, the team has been on call for consultations in improving or developing postharvest systems in the country. It improved the calamansi postharvest handling system for inter-island shipment. It also came up with optimal postharvest and agribusiness systems for exporting mango fruits from the Philippines to Hong Kong and China. The team also trained growers and traders in implementing a program for quality assurance and safety of fruits and vegetables traded in the domestic and export markets. In 2007, the team published a book of tried and tested postharvest technologies entitled “Postharvest Technology for Southeast Asian Perishable Crops.”

The Fruit Crops Postharvest Team’s dedication to its work has not only redounded to technological advancements in postharvest technology in the country. It has also brought UPLB to the annals of postharvest research and development as the premier institution in the field. The team’s success has made the University the leader in postharvest research of tropical fruits.

Originally published in the UPLB Horizon, 2nd Quarter Issue, 2009

From: UPLBRDE News

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