Horticultural commodities are highly perishable in nature thus there may be a glut of fruits and vegetables in the market during the peak harvest season. These crops undergo a rapid transformation between the harvest and consumption which results spoilage and reduces market value. The spoilage has been estimated to be nearly 30-40 per cent in most of the produce which account for more than 25,000 crores of rupees every year. This is not only a loss to the growers but a net loss of huge human nutrition and wastage of inputs involved. These losses can be minimized to a considerable surplus with timely and safe management of post harvest produce.
In agriculture, postharvest handling is the stage of crop production immediately following harvest, including cooling, cleaning, sorting and packing. The instant a crop is removed from the ground, or separated from its parent plant, it begins to deteriorate. Postharvest treatment largely determines final quality, whether a crop is sold for fresh consumption, or used as an ingredient in a processed food product.
The most important goals of post-harvest handling are keeping the product cool, to avoid moisture loss and slow down undesirable chemical changes, and avoiding physical damage such as bruising, to delay spoilage. Sanitation is also an important factor, to reduce the possibility of pathogens that could be carried by fresh produce, for example, as residue from contaminated washing water.
After the field, post-harvest processing is usually continued in a packing house. This can be a simple shed, providing shade and running water, or a large-scale, sophisticated, mechanised facility, with conveyor belts, automated sorting and packing stations, walk-in coolers and the like. In mechanised harvesting, processing may also begin as part of the actual harvest process, with initial cleaning and sorting performed by the harvesting machinery.
It has to develop in relation with needs of each society to stimulate agriculture production, prevent post harvest losses, improve nutritional and add value of production. To this process, It must be able to generate employment reduce poverty & stimulate growth of other selected economic sector.
The Process of developing of post harvest technology and its purposeful use need on inter disciplinary and most multidimensional approach which must include scientific creativity, technology innovation and institutional capable of interdisciplinary research.
The fruit & vegetable processing industry in India is highly decliners having wide capability the deserve Agro-climateric zone make it possible to grow almost all varieties of fresh fruit & green vegetables in India. So there is lot of scope for work in post harvest technology.