Trends and Innovations in Value Chain Management of Tropical Fruits
India produced about 97.35 million tons of fruits during 2017-18, of which less than 1% fruits were exported. In India, less than 5% of the total fruits produced are sold by the organized supply chain management and E-commerce companies and 3% of the total produce gets processed, indicating that more than 90% of fruits follow the traditional route of supply chain involving farmers, auctioneers, agents/intermediaries, wholesalers, sub-wholesalers, retailers, cart vendors before they reach the consumers. Post-Harvest (PH) losses occur at each stage of the supply chain and are compounded with each operation. A study on PH loss estimation has shown maximum loss of 15.88% in guava among fruits while other studies have reported much higher PH lossesin fruits. Value of tropical fruits, both in monetary terms and quality reduces during harvesting, handling, transportation from the farmer’s field, packaging, storage, retail and even at the consumer’s level. Important interventions that reduce the PH losses and improve the supply chain management are establishment of pre-cooling facilities and short term storage facilities through evaporative cooling/refrigeration mechanisms at the farm gate, primary processing and packaging provision at the farm gate or nearby collection centres, transportation of fruits in refrigerated/evaporative cooled vans with the use of alternate energy sources and provision for low temperature and high humidity storage at the retail centres. Establishment of a Postharvest management system for sorting, washing, partial drying, edible coating, if required and grading at the collection centres will help in reducing the PH losses in the supply chain and help farmers get a better value for their produce. Formation of farmer clusters or Farmers Producer Organizations (FPOs) provides farmers a better bargaining power because of higher volumes. Educating and bringing awareness among the farmers about the good agricultural practices (GAP), mechanization in field operations, availability of seeds for different seasons, eliminating the problem of seasonality are also important in production of quality output. Transportation of fruits, such as mango, banana and guava in vans/wagons operating through evaporative cooling/cooling mechanism using phase change material will help in improving the shelf life of such fruits. An integrated radio frequency identification (RFID) system along with the sensors for ethylene, temperature and RH monitoring is likely to help in easy tracking and traceability of the fresh produce. Establishment of primary and secondary processing facility at the farmer cluster/ FPO levels will help in transforming the farmers to primary processors.
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