Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA) has issued 36 postharvest practices guides covering 41 crops, including 21 guides for vegetable and 15 guides for fruit. Due to the similarity of postharvest practices for some crops that belong to the same family, the guides of these crops were combined.
ADAFSA was keen to gather these guides in one book issued under the name "Guide to Postharvest Practices", to be a reference for good postharvest practices, and a guide for farmers to enables them to maintain postharvest quality and minimize crop losses, and thus increasing farm revenues.
On the other hand, the guide would traders and consumers and contributes to boosting confidence in local product and enhancing its competitiveness in the market.
In this regard, H.E. Saeed Al Bahri Salem Alameri, Director General of ADAFSA, affirmed that postharvest operations have become one of the critical elements in agricultural economics and food value chain. He added that implementing these good practices minimizes crop losses by 20% to 50%, increases shelf life of produce throughout supply chain, which results in increasing food availability, in addition to enhancing food security and improving farm owners' income.
"To produce high-quality agricultural products, ADAFSA believes that crop should be subject to an integrated process of crop management, which includes choosing the best varieties, proper sowing dates, efficient irrigating systems, right fertilizing programs, crop pruning and fruit thinning, integrated controlling of pests and diseases, implementing the best harvesting and postharvest practices, and transporting yield properly to the market", Alameri said in the guide's introduction.
Aligning with the interest of the wise leadership and the Abu Dhabi Government objectives in addressing public health and food security issues as strategic priorities, Alameri noted these guides are culminating ADAFSA's efforts to develop and upgrade the agricultural sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. In addition to securing food for citizens and residents in a substantial manner, ADAFSA is keen on developing the agricultural sector and increasing its contribution to Abu Dhabi's GDP.
He also indicated the significance of the scientific effort made in preparing "Guide to Postharvest Practices". He praised the role of ADAFSA's experts, who were keen on utilizing the best global practices in developing the guide, taking in consideration UAE's climate conditions. He further stressed ADAFSA's commitment to assist the implementing these practices on Abu Dhabi's farms.
ADAFSA's extension employees are working diligently to educate and train farm owners and workers on applying standards listed in the guide, in order to maintain the quality of local product, increase produce's shelf life throughout supply chain and at homes, reduce losses, and ensure the safety of food being handled in our markets. Moreover, scientific studies showed that applying the best farming practices while handling crop products extends produce's shelf life, which keeps these products fresh in stores and at homes for a longer period, thus minimizing production losses and enhancing the competitiveness of local products in markets. Issuing these guides reflects ADAFSA's recognizing the future of sustainable agricultural and food security is associated with science and knowledge. Due to their importance in doubling food production, conserving natural resources, enhancing the competitiveness of local product, and building farmers' capacity.
Postharvest an integral part of marketing practices for fresh crop products, both vegetables and fruits. These practices include setting the proper date for harvesting, pre-cooling, storing, packing and packaging, transporting, and displaying produce in markets. The guide consists of 21 guides for vegetable crops, such as eggplant, okra, broccoli, onion, sweet potato, potato, garlic, carrot, cucumber, sweet corn, cauliflower, tomato, bean, radish, chili and bell pepper, squash, cabbages and leafy vegetables. Meanwhile, the other 15 guides are for fruits, such as pineapple, papaya, orange, watermelon, fig, guava, melon, strawberry, lemon, mango and bush berries (blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, raspberry). Each guide is divided into two sections, the first one contains standards to maintain postharvest quality by helping farmers to harvest ripened fruits that are free of pests, cracks, defects or any damage makes them unsuitable for consumption. While, the second section provides general guidelines on cold chain, starting from protecting yield from heat or moisture to precooling, storing, packing and packaging and transporting processes.