Tropical fruits and vegetables are products with excellent market prospects in the world. In spite of the considerably rich collection of exotic varieties of fruits and vegetables, the South Asia has not exploited the potential economic benefits that the fresh produce can attract from the world market. The fruit and vegetable production is often in excess of the local demand and the surplus could be meaningfully utilized by careful postharvest management of the produce. Surveys have revealed that a substantial portion of the harvest is wasted in the region annually due to improper harvesting and postharvest practices, disease and lack of facilities and technology to extend their storage life. This continues to cause heavy losses in revenue to the grower, wholesaler, retailers and exporter and inconvenience to the consumer and lowers export potential of these commodities.
The reduction of losses and maintenance of quality and freshness of harvested products prior to consumption are extremely important in both local and export markets. Further, export of fruits to distant markets needs special technology that ensures that the consumer receives a good quality product and value for money. The postharvest handling of fruits and vegetables presents many technical problems, most of them deriving from the inherent attributes of the commodity. These commodities are composed of living and metabolizing tissues. The functional characteristics of these tissues, their capacity to withstand the stresses of time, temperature and physical handling, to resist infection and spoilage and maintain quality constitute the basis for successful storage, handling and distribution practices. There are fundamental differences between temperate and tropical products. For example temperate fruits such as apples and oranges are relatively easy to handle, store and transport. Tropical fruits, in contrast, have evolved to decompose quickly after maturity in an environment where there is no impediment to immediate seed germination.
Technical knowledge needed for successful postharvest handling of tropical perishable produce spans many disciplines -chemistry, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, entomology, engineering and moleculer biology. This Diploma/M.Sc. programme, designed within this multidisciplinary framework, is intended to impart scientific knowledge and technology of postharvest management of fruits and vegetables for those engaged or seek employment in fruit and vegetable industry.