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Postharvest supports and enhances the processes throughout the supply chain critical to ensuring that intrinsic product integrity is maintained and that a quality product is available to the end-consumer in local and distant global markets. Postharvest covers producers, packhouses, marketing coordination, logistics and shipping, receivers/ wholesalers and end-consumers. The postharvest research programme is structured into four themes, namely quality management, physiological defects, storage techniques and packaging and logistics. The research strategy for each theme is determined by a workgroup (one workgroup per theme) consisting of exporters, pre-and postharvest technical specialists, industry consultants and researchers. Additional workgroups are formed as and when needed.

Research needs relating to pre-harvest factors that affect postharvest quality and storability are addressed within the crop production programme. The postharvest and crop production programmes share a programme manager with the effect that research is very well integrated between the two programmes.

Wiehann Steyn

Prof Wiehann Steyn

General Manager: Hortgro Science

Current research addresses a number of themes; these include:

When considering research strategy, the workgroups always keep in mind the objectives of the postharvest research programme, which are the following:

  • To increase the marketable tons of fruit delivered per ton of fruit loaded;
  • To present clients all along the post-harvest value chain extending up to the consumer with a safe product of reliable, good quality;
  • To reduce wastage and losses from defects and pathogens (see the crop protection programme for post-harvest pathology research);
  • To increase efficiencies throughout the post-harvest value chain;
  • To increase the sustainability of post-harvest practices;
  • To reduce risk within the post-harvest value chain.
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