Korea shares postharvest know-how

Korea is now sharing its know-how on how to keep tomatoes in good shape after they are picked with the release of a new technical manual. 

The Korean government’s Rural Development Administration (RDA) has published in ten Asian nations its “Postharvest Handling of Tomato in Asia” book, an agricultural manual that explains the techniques to handle harvested tomatoes. 

The volume has been released as part of the “postharvest quality management of agricultural products” effort by the Asian Food & Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (AFACI), an international body founded by the RDA. 

The AFACI has two broad goals for this book. First, to minimize postharvest losses, such as physical damage or decay, that may occur to tomatoes at any point in the marketing process from initial harvesting and distribution all the way through to the final consumer. Second, the book is designed to help increase the added value that the farmer can find in his product. 

The AFACI was established in 2009 to promote sustainable agricultural growth across the Asian region. It is made up of ten member states: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and Korea. 

Most vegetables and fruit are vulnerable to postharvest losses. Postharvest losses to tomatoes, one of the most consumed fruits in the world, can be particularly severe, ranging from slight external damage to total spoilage. During handling and transport, almost 35 percent of an order can be lost. 

The AFACI felt that the existing tomato postharvest guide, that which is used in Western countries, wasn’t suitable for Asian agriculture. So they investigated existing postharvest methods and tailored them for Asian farming techniques. The newly published book is a result of these efforts. 

The book introduces postharvest tomato-handling in a more easily understandable manner for both producers and distributors. It presents the ideal way to deal with harvested tomatoes to help the fruit retain its quality until it reaches the consumer’s table. 

The Asia-tailored manual is expected to reduce postharvest losses by around 10 percent. 

Meanwhile, the RDA played host to a workshop on the postharvest handling of tomatoes in Nepal on November 24 in an effort to help its new manual reach as many agriculturalists as possible. 

“We expect that publishing this manual and distributing it in ten Asian countries will contribute greatly to providing fresh tomatoes for consumers and help to upgrade farming techniques to grow great-quality tomatoes,” said an official from the RDA. The administration will endeavor to establish a framework for postharvest management and to publish more such manuals, next time covering other kinds of fruits and vegetables, it said. 

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