Today providing consumer markets with high-quality fruits and vegetables year-round is no longer an unachievable task, with both local and imported produce being available on shelves. Understanding modern methods of effectively storing produce makes it possible for farmers to expand their market share.
To help farmers take advantage of this opportunity, on 17-19 May the CCI-UNDP joint project ‘Enhancing the adaptation and strengthening the resilience of farming to Climate Change Risks in Fergana Valley’, funded by the Russian Federation, held workshops in the Namangan, Andijan and Fergana regions on postharvest storage technologies for fruits and vegetables. These workshops were attended by 80 farm representatives.
The trainings covered a range of matters for expanding farmers’ businesses, like organizing harvest processes, temporary storage and initial refrigeration, transporting fruits and vegetables from orchards and fields, overviews of modern industrial refrigerators, and others. To demonstrate the best ways of storing produce, each regional workshop was held on a farm with industrial refrigerators. This let the participants see how these facilities are set up and operated, the state of the stored produce, and obtain recommendations for establishing similar refrigerators on their own farms.
Active discussions on why some fruits and vegetables are harvested ripe and some are not, and how the time of day when fruits are harvested affects their quality and shelf life, helped emphasize to participants that cultivating horticultural produce is a nuanced process. Variety selection, agrotechnical measures, fertilizing, watering, treatment, harvesting and transportation, are important factors for the effective storage of harvests.
While the operation of industrial refrigerators was explained, rules for the refrigerated storage of horticultural produce were also presented in detail. During this portion of the training participants learned about the different industrial refrigerators available, the specifics of storing varied produce in one chamber, optimal temperature regimes for cooling and freezing, and the shelf life of certain fruit and vegetable varieties.
"Information provided about air temperature, relative humidity, extending shelf life while maintaining product quality, freezing and cooling temperatures for fruits, and how ethylene affects the shelf life of various fruits and vegetables, was very important to me. Having built a refrigerator myself and placed in it produce for storage, I want to make the most of this resource so I can deliver a quality product to consumers," says Vohidjon Buvamirzaev, one seminar participant.
Farmers were especially interested not only in the storage of fresh produce, but also in the nuances of storing dried fruits, given that these are particularly susceptible to pests and diseases.
During their presentations at each workshop, representatives of the regional department of the State Plant Quarantine Inspection spoke about methods of preventing the spread of diseases and pests on potatoes, cherries, lemons and other crops. They also provided participants with detailed information about the specifics of processing fresh and dried horticultural crops placed in storage, about quarantine measures, and requirements for storing and transporting produce.
Since 2019 more than 15 series of thematic workshops have been organized by the project for farmers in the fertile Fergana Valley, with May’s workshops being the last in a cycle devoted to climate change adaptation measures. Through these workshops more than 1,700 participants have improved their knowledge and skills on agricultural activities, on everything from how climate change impacts farming, to making the best use of postharvest storage technologies.