European University of Lefke (EUL) Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Technologies Department of Horticulture Production and Marketing Assoc. Prof. Dr. İbrahim Kahramanoğlu made statements on “Food Security and Post-Harvest Conservation”.
“Food insecurity is the most important problem threatening our world and humanity today and in the near future”
Kahramanoğlu said, “Food insecurity is the most important problem threatening our world and humanity today and in the near future. In the simplest terms, food security is “all people’s physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food necessary for an active and healthy life”. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), approximately one out of every 9/10 people of the human population suffers from chronic hunger. The primary cause of food insecurity in the world is not lack of production. On the other hand, in the world where one out of every 9/10 people starve, it is a very serious problem that 20-40% of the products produced (varies according to the products and countries) are wasted before reaching the end consumer due to post-harvest losses. These losses cause both economic and environmental damage, just because of this, more products are produced and pressure is placed on the ecosystem.
Kahramanoğlu continued his statement, “In addition to this general problem, the COVID-19 epidemic, which has been one of the most important problems of human beings since 2019, has caused significant damage to the world economy, reducing the purchasing power of households, partially restricting international movements and trade (including food products) and agricultural activities. caused damage. This situation also caused uncertainty and food supply shocks in the food field. According to some scientists, business people and politicians, this is a precursor and stimulus for humanity to change its way of life by focusing on sustainable measures to prevent damage to natural ecosystems. In this context, reducing post-harvest losses in crops can help the world cope with the COVID-19 outbreak and/or food supply shocks in normal times.”
“In addition to traditional post-harvest processing practices, maintaining the post-harvest quality of fruits and vegetables requires the application of new technologies (CA storage, palliflex, MAP, film wrapping, edible films, waxing, etc.) from harvest to consumption,” said Kahramanoğlu. Noting that harvesting is very closely related to harvesting at the right time and with the right techniques, “For this reason, it is very important to prepare “harvest maturity guides” and to establish instant information systems by the agricultural departments in order to help the farmers regionally. In this context, it is of great importance to provide training and/or consultancy services to producers.
“The transportation of the product is as important as the right harvest at the right time”
Kahramanoğlu said, “Fruits and vegetables preserve their vitality after harvest; biological activities such as respiration and sweating continue. For this reason, fruits and vegetables have a perishable feature. The main biological factors triggering postharvest deterioration in fruits and vegetables are: respiration, perspiration, ethylene synthesis and diseases; The most important environmental conditions affecting these factors are temperature, relative humidity, air composition (oxygen/carbon dioxide), light and ethylene applications. The fact that these factors begin to be controlled (regulated) with the harvest has a great importance on the preservation quality of the products. For this reason, the transportation of the product is as important as the right harvest at the right time. The transportation of fruits and vegetables after harvest should be done in cold chain (appropriate storage) conditions as much as possible, without being exposed to direct sunlight. expressed its importance.
In his statement, Kahramanoğlu gave detailed information about the important practices that should be applied before cleaning and sanitation of the products; “It should not be forgotten that a diseased fruit can make an entire warehouse sick. In addition, most fruits and vegetables with different morphological and physiological structures need different storage conditions. Therefore, it is of great importance to choose the most suitable storage conditions for the products. In particular, the fruits (eg: banana, kiwi, avocado, apple, mango, fig) that we classify as climacteric and that continue to mature (by secreting ethylene) after being plucked from the branch, are separated from non-climacteric fruits (eg: citrus fruits, cucumber, cherry, strawberry, grape). they must be preserved. Climacteric fruits can generally be stored longer when harvested at harvest maturity before eating maturity, and the ethylene these fruits release while ripening can damage other non-climacteric fruitsIn addition to preservation in the right conditions, film packaging, edible coating and packaging plays a vital role in maintaining the quality of fruits and vegetables during their storage and supply chain, and the use of appropriate packaging is beneficial. It is also useful to mention the modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) method in packaging. The MAP method is a common method used in food preservation. In principle, this method is to preserve the products in the packaging material by changing the nature’s normal respirable air (approximately 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 0.03% carbon dioxide) in some way (actively or passively). In the methods that have been widely used in recent years, after the products are packaged with MAP packaging materials under normal weather conditions, as the products continue to breathe, the amount of oxygen in the environment decreases and the amount of carbon dioxide increases (with the help of special packaging material). In this way, the respiratory rate of the products, and therefore their deterioration, is slowed down. These packages also prevent pathogen (disease) development on the products and contamination from outside. Another method applied in the modified atmosphere is to remove the air in the packaging environment and replace it with a gas or a mixture of various gases, and the packaging is closed.
It should not be forgotten that fresh fruits and vegetables continue to cause losses during marketing and at the consumer’s home. Therefore, retail markets need to configure adequate conditions to store products during marketing, and consumers are advised to keep them in suitable conditions to avoid losses.”
Kahramanoğlu listed some of the traditional and innovative post-harvest processing practices that can ensure the safety and sustainability of the storage of fruits and vegetables;
• Accurate determination of harvest time
• Curing applications and intermittent heating
• Heat (hot water or hot air) applications
• Film wrapping (petroleum, natural and edible based)
• Edible coating applications
• Light applications
• Ethylene control
• Ozone applications
• Nano-food packaging
• Storage in cold storage
• Storage in Controlled Atmosphere (CA) warehouses
• Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP)