Yalew Teshome, Alemeneh Leweye
Today, one of the main global challenges is how to ensure food security for a world growing population whilst ensuring long-term sustainable development. Increasing emphasis on higher value farm products to meet the changing diets of urban consumers has focused renewed attention on post-harvest systems, while unacceptably high losses due to poor handling and lack of appropriate infrastructure have reduced economic benefits to small producers. Post-harvest activities are an integral part of the food production system which mainly includes vegetables which can be defined as any edible and usually succulent, portion of plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed with savory flavor. These edible portions include roots, tubers, stems, buds, bulbs, leaves, flowers, seeds and fruits. Vegetables are diverse in their morphological structure, nutritional composition and general physiology. By nature, all vegetables have a high moisture content which renders them to be highly perishable such, that if not handled properly, a high-value nutritious product can deteriorate and decay in a matter of days or even hours (Kader, 2002). In some areas of the country, root crops particularly potatoes and sweet potatoes are used as staple food for considerable portion of the population. The expression "post-harvest losses" means a measurable quantitative and qualitative loss in a given product.in the other Post-harvest activities include cooling, curing, handling, storage, processing, packaging, transport and the market phase. Post-harvest losses can occur as a loss in edibility, nutritional quality, caloric value, or consumer acceptability. The factors contributing to these losses includes; the initial quality of the crop, mechanical injury, temperature, humidity, handling given to the crop and storage atmosphere. In view of these factors, a good sanitation management in all pre and post-harvest operations in vegetable crops will help in eliminating sources of infection and reducing levels of contamination.
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