The study examined economics of post harvest food losses involving three (3) varieties of leafy vegetables namely: Telfaria(Ugu leaf), Amaranthus(Green leaf ) and Pterocarpus(Oha leaf) in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State. A random sampling technique was used to collect data on vegetable marketers’ socio-economic characteristics, types of post harvest losses, physical and monetary losses and the marketing margin accrued from the losses. Data were analysed with the aid of descriptive statistics (mean, percentage etc) and simple margin analysis. The result showed that women predominated in vegetable trading and most of the respondents have been in business for 6-10 years. The major causes of post harvest losses include physiological factors, mechanical damage and pest and diseases. Telfaria suffered greater incidence of post harvest loses (5.37%) while the losses in Amaranthus and Pterocarpus were 4.84% and 5.14% respectively. Based on the losses in the marketing margin, there was greater reduction in marketing margin of Telfaria (38%) than Amaranthus (35%) and Pterocarpus (11%) at the retailing level. Provision of improved mode of transportation, lower levies, and proper market sanitation is thereby recommended to minimize these losses.
1.1 Background to Study
Estimate of production losses in developing countries are usually very hard to come by. Post harvest losses in vegetable in African countries have been estimated to about 50% of the total production (FAO, 2008). This implies that half of the total production are lost during storage handling and transportation of there produce. Therefore, minimizing these losses to a barest minimum between harvest and consumption, of already produced food is more sustainable than increasing production (Kader and Rolle, 2004).
Post harvest losses are measurable quantitative and qualitative losses of a given produce at any moment along post harvest chain (Delucia and Assemato, 1994). Vegetables are highly perishable except under intensive care during harvesting, handling and transportation. These losses have been estimated to be much more painful and costlier than pre-harvest losses both in terms of money and man-hours. (Dasgupta and Mandal, 1989). Farmers are forced to sell their products at give away prices due to absence of adequate storage and marketing facilities. In some cases, the expected income goes to the dustbin.
Post harvest losses are caused by mechanical injuries, inadequate storage, unsuitable handling, faulty system of transport and delayed transportation in retail market (CEAGESP, 2002).
Green vegetables refer to all leafy vegetables predominantly green in colour which can be eaten boiled or in soups. They have achieved tremendous popularity over the last century among local traders. Besides being tasty, they (green vegetables) promote healthy nutritional balance as they are good sources of vitamin A and C, are low in calories and fats, high in protein per calorie, dietary,
fibre, iron and calcium. They have a very short shell life of about 1-2 days. They have high economic value and high consequence of post harvest losses.
1.2 Problem Statement
A very little is known about the production and consumption pattern of African leafy vegetables. The Joint FAO/WHO consultation on Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases (2003) recommended a minimum daily intake of 400g of fruits and vegetables for proper body functioning. However, Oguntona (1998) reported a mean intake of 65g per day in Western Nigeria. This is against the 150,000 tonnes of leafy vegetable production as recorded in 1992. Emphasis should therefore be laid, not only on increased production of vegetables, but also on ways to minimize these post harvest losses so as to bridge the gap existing in the recommended requirement.
In order to ensure good quality vegetable with high economic and marketable potentials, certain questions must be addressed:
- What are the factors responsible for post harvest losses in green vegetables?
- What are the economic implications of these losses?
- Which varieties are more susceptible?
- What are the ways of reducing these losses?
1.3 Objective of the Study
The general objective of the study is to estimate the physical losses and corresponding financial value of post harvest losses in green vegetables in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The specific objectives of the study are to;
- examine the socio-economic characteristics of green vegetable marketers in the study area.
- estimate the physical losses of green vegetable during marketing.
- determine the financial value of these losses.
- identify the causes of the losses during marketing.
The study is of paramount importance as it seeks to ensure reduction in post harvest losses in vegetable which will in turn make sufficient food, both in quantity and quality, available for human consumption.
Marketers will also benefit as handling costs is minimized and profit margin increased during agricultural marketing. This study can also serve as a base ground for further research works. Lastly, government and policy makers can as well use the result of this analysis in efficient policy formulation to enhance food sufficiency, sustainability and self reliance.