It is estimated that by 2050 world need 60% more food, so best way to increase amount of food is to save food. My parents told me during my childhood that I should not waste food. If we throw away any food, it is regarded as a sin in my culture. I believe that it applies to any other country too. But one can ask where are food losses happening in the food supply chain in Tajikistan? Which food product has more losses and why is it happening? Aiming to answer to these questions within framework of the UNFAO project “SAVE FOOD”, I conducted an assessment of food losses and waste in Tajikistan.
Among selected agricultural products (wheat, potato, onion, apricot and milk) the study revealed that in Tajikistan food loss occurs at the beginning of food supply chains: agriculture production, postharvest handling and storage, and distribution stages. It is found that among selected agricultural products, apricot has highest losses in agriculture production, postharvest handling and storage and distribution stages. The summary assessment of overall losses and waste in the priority food chains is shown in below table.
|Agricultural Production %||Postharvest Handling and Storage %||Processing and Packaging %||Distribution %||Consumption %|
|Roots and tubers (potato)||4.9||5.2||0.2||6.4||4.3|
|Fruit (dried apricots)||20||15||3.3||4.1||0.1|
Tajikistan has good apricot export potential. In 2014 , total export value of dried fruits including dried apricot was 30,721 thousand USD. No, doubt that prevention of post harvesting losses can be beneficial to dehkan farms and households. There are many verities of apricots in Tajikistan and all of them are generally harvested using the traditional method where the limbs are shaken with a stick, by hand or by shoving. The apricot fruits then fall directly onto the ground or are caught on a catching surface; the fruits are finally collected by hand and put into cases. It results in high levels fruit damage and losses nearly around 20%-35%. Apricot has a very short period of maturity stage available for harvesting. The labour is in short supply during this period leading to overripe of fruits and raise of losses therefore mechanical harvesting of apricot is necessary and very important for Tajikistan. Also bad weather condition (for instance: wind, rain, hail) may cause losses during agriculture production stage resulting in ripen apricot fall to ground and get damage.
During the assessment it is found that level of post harvesting losses depends on state of art technology, management, qualification and capacity of farmers, resources availability in the farmers, therefor the extent of Postharvest losses differs depending whether the specific product is produced and marketed by small producers and retailers, or by large producers applying modern technologies, production and retail practices.
Due to lack of adequate storage facilities in farmers, fresh apricot is sold in domestic market or dried. Usually, the apricot dried on cellophane or on the ground and farmers by use of traditional sulfur smoking methods to preserve the fruit (see photo 2). These practices lead to dramatic post-harvest losses and a severe decrease in the quality of the fruit due to exposure to weather and overheating. Depending on type of apricot there is natural losses in drying process which is vary from 10% to 70% from original fresh weight of apricot.
Some of recommendation to prevent Postharvest losses of apricot in entire food supply chain are:
- Capacity building and training of farmers on new technology for harvesting of apricots;
- Introduction of hygienic and safe apricot drying method; Implementation of Global GAP, HACCP and QMS;
- Improvement of packaging, introduction of new innovative packaging and storage technology;
- Access to effective disinfectant for apricot tree; integrates state approach against insects, pests and diseases;
- Need to develop one or two industrial varieties of apricots and saplings;
- Stimulate implementation of drip irrigation in the gardens;
- Organize winter irrigation; Supply of year around electricity;
- Conduct more researches, assessments, monitoring programmes, and sharing of practices for prevention of Post-harvest losses.
If you know any other effective methods of prevention of PHL in apricot, please let me know so that we can SAVE APRICOT in Tajikistan. Full report can be accessed here
Value Chain Expert,
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