“In many countries, farmers hand over tomatoes to collectors who load the tomatoes onto carts or trucks. By the time the produce has reached the destination, the tomatoes at the bottom are crushed,” AVRDC socioeconomist Katinka Weinberger said.
“We teach the farmers to separate green tomatoes from red ones, pack them into bags and put green tomatoes at the bottom and red ones on top. As a result, the farmers have cut down post-harvest waste and get a higher price for their tomatoes,” she said.
AVRDC researchers also try to change farmers’ harvest and storage habits, so that vegetables can be delivered to the market speedily and in good shape.
“In some countries, farmers harvest vegetables around noon and let the vegetables sit under the sun while they wait for the collector. The collectors arrive by 5pm or 6pm. By the time the vegetables have reached the market, they are no longer fresh,” Weinberger said.
“We advise them to harvest vegetables at dawn when it is cool. While waiting for the collectors, we teach them how to keep the vegetables cool. That is, they can put a soaked sack on top of the packed vegetables. That can bring down the temperature by a few degrees,” she said.