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Improved postharvest management of fruit and vegetables in the southern Philippines and Australia

This project aims to determine where and why post-harvest losses occur and develop strategies to reduce losses and improve product quality.
Few people in the southern Philippines eat vegetables, resulting in public health issues. The low consumption is partly due to the high prices and poor availability of fresh produce. Although prices for fresh fruit and vegetables are relatively high in the Philippines, returns to growers are extremely low. Many farmers earn less than a dollar a day, well below the poverty line. Postharvest losses are a major problem for producers and the value chain in the Philippines, and lower both farmer incomes and consumption by consumers. Up to 40% of harvested vegetables are wasted before they reach the consumer.
Improved post-harvest management of fruit and vegetables could both increase farmers' incomes and improve public health. Simple measures such as lining containers with cushioning materials, reducing overpacking and using shading and evaporative cooling to stop products becoming hot can reduce losses.
This project will focus on fruit and vegetables including mango, jackfruit, tomato, bitter melon, cabbage and leafy vegetables. Helping farmer co-operative groups will target women, traditionally regarded as the 'traders'.
This project also aims to build post-harvest expertise in the southern Philippines, training students and providing equipment and resources to academics. Building capacity of researchers, technical staff and supply chain actors within the southern Philippines will help extend post-harvest knowledge within horticultural supply chains, and provide valuable input for businesses and co-operatives that want to improve their practices.
Reducing post-harvest waste should increase economic returns to growers, wholesalers and retailers, while increased availability of fresh, healthy produce will encourage consumer purchase.