Horticultural crops have an important place in the agricultural

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                                  CONCEPT NOTE

Horticultural crops have an important place in the agriculture of Asia-Pacific
countries. This region grows a large variety of indigenous and exotic fruits and
vegetables that collectively constitute more than half of the total world production of
horticultural crops. Many indigenous fruits and vegetables having unique culinary and
therapeutic/medicinal properties are also grown here, often under marginal and sub-
marginal conditions. Most AP countries have for the past several years maintained a
positive growth in production of horticultural crops, indicating the increasing role that
these play in enhancing farmer incomes, alleviating poverty and improving quality of
diet. It is expected that the demands for both fresh and processed horticultural produce
will continue to expand in line with the rise in per capita income, better standards of
living and increasing awareness about their health benefits. The diversity of agro-
climatic conditions across the region provides vast opportunities not only for
cultivation of a wide range of horticultural crops but also for cooperation in regional
trade and industry.

However, fresh horticultural produce is highly perishable with some estimates
suggesting post-harvest losses of 30-50% in fruits and vegetables which occur due to
poor pre-production and post-harvest management and marketing systems. These
constraints adversely affect the quantity and quality of produce available for
consumption as well as farmer incomes and consumer prices. Absence of on farm
storage and proper pack house/packing station facilities result in the perishable
produce being marketed immediately after harvesting without primary processing and
adequate packaging. As a consequence, prices of seasonal fruits and vegetables
fluctuate greatly and during the period of high availability these are non-remunerative
to the farmer. At other times, fruits and vegetables are so highly priced that the
ordinary consumers finds them beyond their purchasing power. In addition, some
areas suffer from inadequate supply even when there is a glut in other parts. The
large amounts of solid wastes originating from horticultural produce when left
unattended create sanitation and health problems, more particularly in crowded cities.

Some of the constraints to adoption of post-harvest management practices in
developing countries are: inadequate information and skills in harvesting and post-
harvest handling, lack of appropriate and low-cost infrastructure, high transportation
costs, poor access of farmers to markets and integration of marketing channels, poorly
developed processing sector, unfavorable policy environment and inadequate
investment in R&D. Small farmers with limited access to markets as well as financial
resources are particularly discouraged from adopting improved post-harvest
management practices.

Attention to the concept of post-harvest food loss reduction as a significant means to
increase food availability was drawn by the World Food Conference held in Rome in
1974. The 7th session of the U.N. General Assembly in 1975 passed a resolution
calling for 50% reduction of post-harvest losses by 1985. In May 1980, an Expert
Consultation on Food Loss Prevention in Perishable Crops, mainly covering fruit and
vegetables was held in Rome. In 2004, the Asia Productivity Organization (APO)
organized a seminar to discuss developments in post-harvest losses in fruits and
vegetables; identify issues and constraints to reducing post-harvest losses; marketing
and food safety issues; and to define strategies and measures to reduce such losses.
Subsequently, there have been several developments in R&D, policy environment and
sectoral participation that call for a fresh review of the status of post-harvest
management of horticultural produce and evolve strategies to overcome the
constraints affecting particularly the small and marginal producers in AP countries.
Besides, there is a need to share success stories of farmer level post-harvest
management of fruit and vegetables in the region that could serve as models for other
countries. Farmer cooperatives in Thailand, Republic of Korea and Chinese Taipei
operate modern transportation; processing and marketing systems to significantly
reduce post-harvest losses and deliver high quality semi-processed and processed
produce to the consumers. Other countries such as India have developed innovative
energy efficient cool storage systems that are low costing and suitable for their
particular situations. Participation of large private sector companies in marketing of
horticultural produce at some places has assured remunerative prices to the farmers
while providing good quality produce to the consumers.

In view of these needs, the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research
Institutions (APAARI) in its Executive Committee Meeting held on 26th October 2009
at Taichung, Chinese Taipei proposed to organize an “Expert Consultation on Post-
harvest and Value Addition of Horticultural Produce” in Malaysia. The meeting is
expected to promote intensive and appropriate agricultural research development
(ARD) on post-harvest and value addition of horticultural produce also linking
farmers to markers so as to reduce losses, diversify product utilization, enhance
incomes and employment generation, improve nutritional status and food security,
and assure food safety. The meeting to be held in December 2010 is being co-
organized and hosted by the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development
Institute (MARDI).

Objectives of the Expert Consultation

   1. To review the current status of research, development and adoption of post-
      harvest management and value addition of horticultural produce in the Asia-
      Pacific region.
   2. To highlight the outstanding recent technologies on post-harvest, value
      addition and food safety with emphasis on small farm low cost technologies.
   3. To identify strategies for promoting linkages between farmers, markets and
      processors including public-private participation.
   4. To develop a regional action plan for strengthening cooperation in post-
      harvest and value addition technologies, policy framework and advocacy.


The meeting will be attended by participants as follows:

      Experts from APAARI member organizations
      Malaysian participants from government agencies, traders, farmers and private
       sector (60 delegates)
      International experts

Scope of the Expert Consultation

The three day event will comprise two days of presentation and group discussions,
and one day technical visits. The scopes of the program are as follows:

  1. Status of ARD initiatives on postharvest and value addition of horticultural
     produce in the Asia-Pacific region by:
             West Asia
             South Asia
             Southeast Asia
             East Asia
             The Pacific

  2. Showcasing outstanding recent technologies for managing quality and safety of
      horticultural produce on:
             Postharvest
             Minimal Processing
             Value addition

  3. Overview of future ARD directions on postharvest and value addition of
     horticultural produce on:
            Postharvest and value addition of fruits and vegetables
            Postharvest and value addition of floriculture
            Postharvest and value addition of herbs and medicinal crops

  4. Workshop discussion for identifying future regional ARD strategy towards
     strengthening postharvest and value adding technologies on horticultural
     produce on:
            Postharvest and value addition of fruits and vegetables.
            Postharvest and value addition of floriculture.
            Postharvest and value addition of herbs and medicinal crops.
5. Technical visit
           MARDI
           Commercial Farm
           Commercial packinghouse / processing plant