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Tuskegee University Global Center for Post-Harvest Training Research: Handling Food Processing and Food Safety

Introduction

What is Post-Harvest Loss?

Post-harvest loss is measurable qualitative and quantitative loss of food degraded from harvest to consumption. This concept is more pronounced in developed countries such as the U.S due to monitoring of acceptability and consumable in the nutrient and caloric composition. Whereas quality loss is not as common due to being rarely measured less strictly in developing countries. Approximately 20% of loss is incurred during production, 18% in postharvest, and 28% during consumption.

Percent of Kcal Lost or Wasted by Region and Stage in Value Chain
(Source: Lipinski et al. ‘Reducing Food Loss and Waste’ (2009)

Loss and Wastage of Fruits and Vegetables at different stages in the Value Chain. (Source: FAO Report ‘Global food losses and food waste-Extent, causes and prevention’ (2011)

Who Does Post-Harvest Loss Impact?

Eighty percent of the world’s food is produced by an estimated 500 million small farmers. Most of these farmers have limited resources meaning they are challenged in areas of acres, water, labor, and sales. This skewing is even more pronounced among minority and socially disadvantaged farmers, many of whom rely on fruit and vegetable production where they can get more per unit income on their limited acreage. However, these farmers face severe constraints and obstacles along the food chain leading to post harvest food loss, ultimately causing a greater deficit on profit. Over 40% of the food these farmers produce is never consumed. The obstacles attributing to food losses include:

  1. Inadequate production techniques leading to low yields.
  2. Over-reliance on traditional crop varieties that depress market prices.
  3. Lack of temperature management leading to limited marketing windows before spoilage and related low prices when the market is flooded.
  4. Limited marketing opportunities.

By 2050 the demand for agricultural crops will double as the world population continues to increase. The world’s food providers will be expected to increase quantity and quality in response to the growing demand. Increased productivity and improved post harvest handling and food processing is the key to reducing losses and waste.

Locations

Developed Countries


Range

Developed Countries


Mean

Developing Countries


Range

Developing Countries


Mean

From Production to Retail Sites

2-23

12

5-50

22

At Retail, Food Service, and Consumer Sites

5-30

20

2-20

10

Cumulative Total

7-53

32

7-70

32

Estimated postharvest losses (%) of fresh produce in developed and developing countries. Source: Kader, 2005

Mission

The mission for the Post Harvest Global Center is to be the Center for training and demonstration in innovative and applicable Post-Harvest technologies in the Southern Region of the US and beyond.

Goals: 

Our goal is to reduce post-harvest loss in horticulture crops for Disadvantage Limited Resource Farmers.

Objectives:

  • Assessing and reducing the post-harvest losses of fruits and vegetables grown on small farms between harvest and consumption.
  • To enable limited resource farmers to market their produce through varied sources with minimal losses and waste.
  • Build TU’s long term capacity in post-harvest and food processing technology and to deliver such effectively to limited resource farmers in Alabama and the US Southeast
  • Protect food safety through adaptive research that leads to farmer certification for increased market accessibility.
  • Maintain produce quality (appearance, texture, flavor, and nutritive value) through training of small-scale producers, extension personnel and interested public.

How the Post-Harvest Center is Reducing Impact:

  1. Training of Trainers (ToTs): The center is involved with the training of postharvest farmers, food processors, extension agents, and students in order to gain the skills necessary to impact others on addressing post harvest losses.
  2. Training of farmers: Training of the local horticulture farmers to adapt good agricultural and post harvest practices to reduce the losses, as well as improve their living conditions.
  3. Research: Ongoing research includes impact and drop test measurement on horticultural crops along the food supply chain, and value adding strategies.
  4. Food Processing & Food Safety: Adaptive research on food safety, product development, and value-addition.

Focus Area: Southeast Region, USA

Food Loss Vs. Food Waste

Post Harvest Tools & Resources

Postharvest E-learning Program

Post-Harvest Workshops

Faculty and Staff

Dr. Desmond Mortley
Tuskegee University Global Center for Post-Harvest
Research & Training- Handling, Food Processing & Food Safety
College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutritional Sciences
Telephone: 334.727.8044 ● Fax: 334.727.8552
Email:
dmortley@tuskegee.edu

Dr. eunice A. Bonsi
203 Mary Starke Harper Hall
Research and Training-Food Processing, Preservation & Food Safety
College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutritional Sciences
Telephone: 334.727.8044 ● Fax: 334.727.8552
Email:
ebonsi@tuskegee.edu