Post Harvest Handling

Afarmer, Mukose Mudodi from Mayuge district planted 2 acres of maize. When ripe for harvest, he took his whole family of five to get the crop from the garden. That evening, and for the next three days, his wife sold the cobs either fresh or boiled at the market every evening. However, by the fourth day, the cobs were going bad already. He then decided to sun dry and mill them to get flour. Imagine the quality of flour that resulted? Also, imagine the degree of palatability to humans?

This is a common trend among farmers in Uganda. They are oblivious of the fact that as soon as a crop is removed from the ground, or separated from its parent plant, it begins to deteriorate; thereby calling for immediate post harvest handling.

In agriculture, postharvest handling is that stage of crop production immediately following harvest. It includes cooling, cleaning, sorting, processing and packing. Post-harvest treatment largely determines final quality, whether a crop is sold for fresh consumption, used as an ingredient in a processed food product or sold in a processed form. Post-harvest handling is one of the major determinants of the final quality. This is what farmers’ do not do often resulting in rot of their crops and/or price wars leading to lower prices as compared to cost of production.

Many farmers often do not take to this stage of farming because either they do not know how to or financial challenges crop in. Some of them are not even aware of the value added and especially in relation to cost. All Mukose Mudodi had to do was to sell his cobs fresh for the first day. After that, probably sun-dry them and obtain flour for sell. That way, he would be more in control of how much he sells his milled maize. In a milled form, he can store it till the bumper sells have decreased and the prices have gone higher.

Another issue of concern here is: does he have the money to mill it? Or the mill to do it himself? Does he have packaging materials? Poor post handling procedures for the maize crop for instance can lead to development of aflatoxins. These when consumed by humans can lead to stomach upsets and even death especially when taken in huge amounts.

To process or not to is a decision a farmer has to make even before planting the crop. That way, he/she will be more prepared and hence less losses

Written and posted by Maria

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Aweu peter on July 6, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Mr Joseph mulopi ,what is your contact telephone no. i would like you to tell me about ginger growing . Iam impressed by your knowledge. my name is Aweu peter from soroti district telephone no 0772946953

    Reply

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