FAO - Fruit and Vegetable Processing
In developing countries agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. As such, it should be no surprise that agricultural industries and related activities can account for a considerable proportion of their output. Of the various types of activities that can be termed as agriculturally based, fruit and vegetable processing are among the most important.
Both established and planned fruit and vegetable processing projects aim at solving a very clearly identified development problem. This is that due to insufficient demand, weak infrastructure, poor transportation and perishable nature of the crops, the grower sustains substantial losses. During the post-harvest glut, the loss is considerable and often some of the produce has to be fed to animals or allowed to rot.
Even established fruit and vegetable canning factories or small/medium scale processing centres suffer huge loss due to erratic supplies. The grower may like to sell his produce in the open market directly to the consumer, or the produce may not be of high enough quality to process even though it might be good enough for the table. This means that processing capacities will be seriously underexploited.
The main objective of fruit and vegetable processing is to supply wholesome, safe, nutritious and acceptable food to consumers throughout the year.
Fruit and vegetable processing projects also aim to replace imported products like squash, yams, tomato sauces, pickles, etc., besides earning foreign exchange by exporting finished or semi-processed products.
The fruit and vegetable processing activities have been set up, or have to be established in developing countries for one or other of the following reasons:
- diversification of the economy, in order to reduce present dependence on one export commodity;
- government industrialisation policy;
- reduction of imports and meeting export demands;
- stimulate agricultural production by obtaining marketable products;
- generate both rural and urban employment;
- reduce fruit and vegetable losses;
- improve farmers' nutrition by allowing them to consume their own processed fruit and vegetables during the off-season;
- generate new sources of income for farmers/artisans;
- develop new value-added products.