Post-harvest problems

Vegetable quality needs to be maintained from the moment of harvest. Even when the distance from the farm gate to the consumer is relatively short, as in urban and often in peri-urban horticulture, growers must take care when harvesting, storing, packing and transporting fresh produce to prevent damage and maintain quality. Harvested vegetables release heat from respiration and lose moisture, which detracts from their appearance and weight. A study conducted in Rwanda on amaranths packed for the market showed they had eleven per cent weight loss within half an hour, while in Benin, 89 per cent of the leafy greens that were packed for the wholesale market had mechanical damage (see: ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/datastore/234-1848.pdf). Leafy vegetables have a large surface area over which they lose a lot of moisture; even a five per cent loss will result in visible wilting. Not only do bruised, damaged, or over-mature vegetables appear unattractive and fetch lower prices on the market, they are also less nutritious.