By Alithea De Jesus
Not many are aware of the post-harvest losses that cost Filipino farmers billions of pesos every year. Interestingly, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says that up to 50% of the loss of root crops and grains is due to bad management after harvest.
This issue is especially serious in a nation where agriculture is one of the primary means of subsistence for many families. Inadequate post-harvest management results in a significant decrease in the quality and quantity of produce, which has a negative impact on the income of farmers and their families.
The lack of infrastructure and technologies for preserving and storing agricultural products is the root cause of post-harvest losses. Insufficient storage facilities, a lack of refrigeration systems, and inadequate transportation networks all contribute to the issue.
JT Solis, co-founder and CEO of agritech startup Mayani shares, “In our experience working with smallholder farmers and fisherfolk, the post-harvest and post-catch downstream value chain to the consumers and buyers is where we see a glaring void. It’s a fundamental imperative to solve that and protect the livelihood of our smallholders through lesser losses.”
However, the solution to this issue is not inaccessible. There are, in fact, a number of initiatives and technologies that can be implemented to aid in the reduction of post-harvest losses. Companies like Coolaire Consolidated Inc. can help with this. Coolaire is the leading provider of the design and manufacturing of refrigeration systems, cold storage equipment, and specialized air conditioning systems for mobile applications, including refrigerated trucks and vans, and modern jeepneys in the Philippines. Their products are designed to keep produce fresh, preventing spoilage and lowering post-harvest losses.
The use of modified atmosphere storage (MAS) and refrigeration systems is one such solution. MAS is a method for storing fruits and vegetables that involves controlling the internal temperature, humidity, and gas composition. This slows down respiration and other physiological processes that contribute to spoilage.
In contrast, refrigeration systems preserve the quality of agricultural products during transport and storage. These systems can be utilized to maintain the required temperature and humidity levels for specific crops, thereby preventing the growth of microorganisms and minimizing the risk of spoilage.
In addition to technological solutions, several best practices can be implemented to reduce post-harvest losses. These include the proper handling of produce during harvesting, the sorting and grading of produce, and the use of suitable packaging and labeling to identify the quality and origin of the products.
Joel Ryan Tugade, Managing Director of Coolaire Consolidated Inc., shares, “I am deeply concerned about the issue of post-harvest losses in Philippine agriculture. It’s sad to see so much of our valuable agricultural produce go to waste due to insufficient storage and transportation. We believe that every grain of rice and every fruit and vegetable grown by our farmers should reach the market and, ultimately, Filipino dinner tables.
Coolaire is dedicated to providing the best solutions to this problem. Our knowledge of refrigeration systems, cold storage equipment, and specialized air conditioning systems can help reduce post-harvest losses by keeping produce fresh and preserved until it reaches its final destination.
We believe it is our responsibility to contribute to the development of the Philippine agricultural sector. We collaborate closely with farmers and other stakeholders to understand their needs and design tailored solutions to help them overcome obstacles. For over 50 years, we have been a trusted partner of the agricultural industry, and we will continue to innovate and improve our products and services to help reduce post-harvest losses.
I strongly encourage everyone in the agricultural industry to work together to achieve this common goal. We must all take responsibility for ensuring that our produce is properly preserved and transported so that we can contribute to our country’s food security and economic growth. Coolaire is dedicated to doing our part, and we invite everyone to join us in this endeavor.”
Education and training for farmers and other stakeholders are also essential to reducing post-harvest losses. This includes training on harvesting, storage, and transportation best practices as well as education on the importance of post-harvest management and its potential impact on farmers’ and their families’ income.
Post-harvest losses may appear insurmountable, but there is hope for a solution. By investing in the appropriate technologies, implementing best practices, and providing education and training, we can help reduce the annual amount of agricultural products lost. This will not only benefit farmers and their families, but it will also contribute to the sustainability and resilience of the Philippines’ agricultural sector.