Post-harvest losses sometimes account for 50% or even higher, especially on commodities like tomato or fresh produce. But even in grains, where you don’t expect post-harvest losses, up to 35% could be incurred, and it begins with:
Poor Production Practices
Poor sanitation within the farm is enough to cause problems after harvest.
Most of the post-harvest pests reside in transition within the farm. Therefore, if you don’t have good sanitation in your farm, there is a tendency of you moving produced eggs or larva of insect pests, which will become problem to you after harvest to your store, and poor sanitation in the store will give it the right, ambient, environment for it to grow.
Poor Harvesting Practices
Harvest especially grains when the moisture content is between 11 and 13%.
When the moisture content is higher than 15% in most cases, the grains will be soft and easily penetrated by either insect pests or fungal pests.
A deadly fungal disease called Aflatoxin, thrives well when the moisture content is high. Aflatoxin is caused by a fungus called Aspergillus flavus, and many people sometimes don’t pay attention, when just 2-3% of their grains are infected. Thus, causing serious problem of stomach pain, vomiting, nausea, and other diseases, and if the percentage is higher, it could kill.
Poor Storage Facilities
Harvest should be done at the right time with the right moisture content, store in a cool dry place with sufficient air circulation, and a high floor to prevent water seeping up when it rains
Because even when harvest is done at the right time with the right moisture content, and there is high humidity within the storage room, chances are, the same moisture you avoided in the field will meet you in the storage.
Insufficient Storage Facilities
It is very disastrous in food crop production especially in vegetables and fruit crops for farmers to make the mistake of planting everything at once, then harvest all at once, and then don’t have enough storage facility.
The ripening of fruits is sometimes faster than the stipulated time for harvest and since they are not mechanized, they don’t have enough labour to pick it.
Also, in periods of glut, the cost of harvest is even more than the value of the crop for harvesting.
Therefore a delay in transplanting, different planting time and spacing among and between crops, and Planting especially during the dry season, will help crops mature at different time for proper storage.
Culled from Daily Trust.