Fruit trees are an attractive intervention for rehabilitating degraded land profitably. Part of ICRAF's land health surveillance will diagnose and assess the prevalence of soil nutritional constraints to the growth of fruit production. Infrared and X-ray spectroscopy provide tools that make large area assessments and monitoring feasible by analyzing large numbers of soil and leaf samples at low cost.
ICRAF scientists are currently developing and demonstrating protocols for practical application of these tools in surveillance systems. Soil is the most available and normal growing media for plants. The soil's main functions are to provide anchorage, nutrients, air, and water to plant rooting systems.
However, soils may also pose serious limitations to plant growth. Plant diseases caused by soil organisms, unsuitable soil fertility, salt accumulation due to irrigation, unfavorable soil compaction, and poor drainage may cause substantial reductions in fruit and vegetable productivity.
In greenhouses, poor soil management almost inevitably increases soil-borne pests such as nematodes and accumulation of salinity. Soilless culture hydroponics , when employed on a large scale, can be very challenging and needs informed management and sensitive measurement tools to be effective. However, ICARDA has been innovative and succeeded in enhancing and simplifying such techniques such that they are now suitable for application by small-scale growers.
The simplification and consequent lower investment needs are the key innovative features of this technology, making it more acceptable to farmers and improving its impact. A range of alternate hydroponic systems for growing cash crops, including cucumber Cucumis sativus L.
Soilless culture has not only shown itself to be a practical solution for many soil problems but also has managed to significantly increase water use efficiency and productivity.
Such techniques are now being transferred to growers in many countries. The vertical soilless production system has been adopted by a number of small-scale growers for production of strawberries and green beans. The primary production data for cucumber and their comparison with the normal soil bed at the research station show the significant superiority of soilless culture.
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Soilless systems not only increase yields but also speed up production. Water productivity in the soilless system reached Transportation and Packaging Fruit and vegetables are highly perishable commodities. Inappropriate postharvest handling and packaging and lack of access to adequate transportation infrastructure are some of the reasons for high postharvest losses.
Postharvest mishandling and time lags due to the distance from farm to market can cause produce quality and nutritional value to deteriorate, jeopardize food safety, and reduce the value of the products. It is crucial to disseminate postharvest technologies adapted to suit local conditions and materials and to enhance fruit and vegetable producers' knowledge of good postharvest practices. Better postharvest handling methods can be as simple as harvesting leafy vegetables during the coolest time of day, using smooth instead of rough-surfaced containers to hold produce, and using sturdy containers to avoid crushing when stacked during transportation.
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Farmers from the Kiensvay district, Cambodia, used to harvest their tomatoes around noon, let them sit in the sun while waiting for the collector to arrive around 5 pm, and then load them in bamboo baskets at about kg fruits per basket onto cars or trucks. About 10 kg fruits per basket were lost to physical damage. Farmers in the area now harvests their tomatoes at mature green to breaker stage during the cooler part of the day and place the harvested fruits under a shaded area where the fruits are sorted based on maturity.
Instead of bamboo basket, containers with smooth surfaces are used during harvest and hauling. The tomatoes are packed in plastic bags at 20 to 22 kg and careful handling and loading into the transport vehicles are practiced.
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In Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, AVRDC has worked with tomato farmers to evaluate varietal differences in storage quality and resistance to mechanical damage during handling and transport, test the most appropriate packaging, and improve storage practices. Fruit of varieties with a higher level of firmness sustained the least damage when a grid polystyrene crate was used with shredded paper as cushioning material AVRDC, Precooling improved the storage behavior of tomato.
Modified atmosphere packaging and evaporative cooling storage techniques were adapted and optimized for fresh tomato and chili Capsicum frutescens L. Low-cost solar driers were fabricated and tested for chili with considerable success. Opportunities for increased use of solar drying techniques in developing countries appear to be radically underexploited at present. Markets Domestic and regional markets in developing countries are growing rapidly and are substantially larger in volume and value than global export opportunities. Efficient market-oriented production and effective market interventions therefore offer significant opportunities for poverty alleviation and increased consumption of fruit and vegetables for more vulnerable community members such as women and children in developing countries.
However, domestic and regional market supply chains for vegetables tend to be inefficient, long, and complex Koenig, ; J. Lenne and A.
Vegetable Brassicas and Related Crucifers
Ward, unpublished data, The major constraints include a high level of postharvest losses; high transaction costs due to inadequate infrastructure; nonexistent or inefficient market information systems; the low bargaining power of farmers; and large seasonal price and volume fluctuations due to undeveloped processing industries. Heckel]: i the introduction of improved harvest and postharvest techniques that improve product quality; ii the grading of produce according to market-determined norms; iii the strengthening of farmer producer groups to allow direct negotiations with wholesalers; and iv the introduction of a range of services, including market information and credit, to help farmers to negotiate higher prices and enable them to store produce for sale to avoid market gluts Akinnifesi et al.
Action in each of these areas has generated higher value for producers. A similar approach to improve inefficient banana market chains has been successfully adopted in Kenya and Uganda. Food Contaminants Diversifying diets with fruit and vegetables becomes counterproductive if the food itself contains contaminants detrimental to human health. Pesticide residues, microbial contaminants, heavy metals, and toxins are examples of harmful food contaminants that can, in extreme cases, cause death.
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Good Agricultural Practices GAP to ensure safe production and postharvest management of vegetables and fruit should be emphasized to ensure produce is wholesome and free of contaminants. Such theoretical positions are easy to postulate but prove to be extraordinarily difficult to operationalize in the developing world where lack of knowledge of the implications of injudicious activities such as overspraying are common among small-scale growers. Reducing pesticide use in fruit and vegetable cultivation helps reduce the level of pesticide residue in crop harvests.
Host plant resistance, biological control, sex pheromones, and mechanical controls are some alternatives to the use of pesticides. An integrated pest management strategy to control eggplant fruit and shoot borer developed by AVRDC involves proper field sanitation, prompt disposal of infected shoots throughout the season, installation of traps baited with sex pheromone, and withholding insecticide use to allow proliferation of the pest's natural enemies. Adapting and disseminating the technologies to other crop-producing regions can lead to further reductions in pesticide residues on vegetables and fruit.
Mycotoxin contamination is a widespread problem in developing countries in the tropics Waliyar et al. Such toxins are a secondary metabolite produced by species of fungus, for example Aspergillus flavus and A. The environment, farming practices, socioeconomic conditions, lack of awareness, inadequate monitoring skills, and processing facilities make the crops and food produced in tropical countries highly vulnerable to mycotoxin contamination Ortiz et al.
Groundnuts Arachis hypogaea L. Good Agricultural Practices can significantly reduce the aflatoxin contamination in many crops Waliyar et al. Information dissemination about mycotoxin contamination is critical, as most farmers and consumers are unaware of the problem. Once awareness has increased, preventative measures can be taken Singh and Jauhar, Correct storage after harvest is also important and it is vital that crops are dried to a safe moisture level as quickly as possible.
Threats to human health from heavy metals are can also be a problem and are mainly associated with exposure to lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic.
Vegetable Brassicas and Related Crucifers | NHBS Academic & Professional Books
Elevated concentrations of heavy metal in agricultural soil and foliar uptake from heavy metals in the atmosphere produced by smokestack and vehicle emissions are sources of heavy metal contamination on vegetables and fruit Kachenko and Singh, , as is compost composed of contaminated urban waste. A significant proportion of contamination occurs during transport to market or at the point of sale.
Urban and peri-urban vegetable production systems are particularly vulnerable. Vegetables should be washed thoroughly to remove heavy metals accumulated on the surface and their skins peeled where possible CIP, Marshall et al.
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Planting gardens behind houses and other structures could help block some lead, cadmium, and zinc emitted from road vehicles, thus decreasing heavy metal contamination through foliar uptake. Regulation of vehicle emissions and the use of unleaded fuels should be part of the long-term solution to heavy metal contamination in urban and peri-urban vegetable production systems. In urban areas, domestic users, industry, and commercial enterprises consume large volumes of fresh water and in turn generate a large volume of wastewater, which in most developing countries is discharged back into natural water bodies with no or little treatment.
Jimenez and Asano and Keraita et al. A recent global survey found that vegetables are the most common crops produced with diluted or raw wastewater Raschid-Sally and Jayakody, This practice may harm human health due to pathogens parasitic worms, protozoa, bacteria, and viruses from fecal contamination , heavy metals, pesticide residues, and fertilizers in the wastewater Qadir et al.
Farmers, consumers, and governmental agencies in many countries are not fully aware of the hazards of irrigation with wastewater.
The International Water Management Institute IWMI is presently heavily committed to addressing this problem in sensitive crops such as fruit and vegetables and is working on a range of health risk reducing options between farm and table. To reduce microbial contamination from wastewater irrigation in lettuce production, IWMI studied ceasing irrigation before harvest. The study showed that during the dry season in tropical climates, the method can result in average daily reduction of 0. However, irrigation cessation periods adversely affect the productivity and freshness of the crops, especially in hot climates such as West Africa, while it has more potential in cooler climates e.
Methods recommended by WHO to minimize wastewater contamination include primary water treatment, storing reclaimed water, wearing protective clothing to reduce exposure and washing hands and feet to prevent the spread of infection, farm-level wastewater management such as drip irrigation, and stopping irrigation before harvesting. Thorough washing, peeling, and cooking of vegetables are also important.
The efficacy and adoption potential of these and other locally adapted safer practices is under study by IWMI and partners Drechsel et al. Indigenous vegetables are easy to grow, need fewer external inputs such as water, and are often resistant to pests and diseases, needing less pesticide application in the production system. Indigenous vegetable production is expected in the long term to reduce the accumulation of pesticide residues and fertilizer in water bodies.