Unlike durable crops such as cereals, pulses and oilseeds, fresh fruits and vegetables are highly perishable, and must be marketed immediately after harvesting without primary processing. Fruit and vegetables generate large quantities of valuable waste that ends up as garbage.
However, if they are gainfully utilized at the proper time they can become value added products. Vegetables such as cauliflower, peas, leafy vegetables, etc. can be minimally processed at packing stations immediately after harvesting, through the removal of inedible parts, following which they can be marketed in metro city markets in unit packs.
Between 10 and 60% of the fresh fruits and vegetables marketed and purchased by consumers in India are rejected as inedible. In villages or small towns the inedible portions of fruits and vegetables are either fed to animals or are discarded as garbage by consumers in metro cities
Primary processing of food crops other than horticultural crops has its origin from the dawn of civilization. It was a necessary step to the consumption of foods such as rice, wheat oilseeds, etc.
Processing not only renders these commodities edible, but also adds value to them. Value-addition to horticultural crops was never considered essential, owing to the fact that many of these fruits and vegetables, e.g., tomato, melon, cucumber, carrot, etc. could be directly consumed after harvesting.
Today, there is considerable interest in processing to add value, as well as to reduce losses in fruits and vegetables.
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