Postharvest orange losses and small-scale farmers’ perceptions on the loss causes in the fruit value chain: a case study of Rusitu Valley, Zimbabwe

Stephen T. Musasa, Brighton M. Mvumi, Faith A. Manditsera, Jonathan Chinhanga, Shepherd Musiyandaka, Claire Chigwedere


Surveys were conducted in Rusitu Valley , Chimanimani district of Zimbabwe between 2011 and 2012 to determine orange losses and farmers’ perceptions on the sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) supply value chain. The following data were collected using interviewer-administered Likert type questionnaires and informal interviews: orchard management practices, pest infestation, fruit handling activities, and marketing practices through. The study sample of 240 respondents was derived from two randomly selected villages in each of the four administrative wards with significant sweet orange production. The study revealed that on average a small-scale farmer in Rusitu Valley owns about 4047 m2 (one acre) orchard with an average of 55 orange trees and that a farmer harvested 1 200 kg of oranges per tree which converts to a total of 66 000 kg of orange produce per season. The study revealed that on average a farmer lost 480 kg of oranges per tree which converts to 26 400 kg per farmer or 40% loss per farmer during the season. Based on the total number of orange farmers in Rusitu Valley, the total loss translates to 89,529,600 kg. About 54% of respondents perceived that the major postharvest losses were a result of fruit fly attack while 36% linked these losses to red weaver ants (Oecophylla spp.). Trapping using a mixture of methyl eugenol and malathion during the same season positively identified the African invader fly, Bactrocera invadens. Unavailability of appropriate storage and transport facilities were the contributing factors to major postharvest losses. Citrus production extension package with an emphasis on the control of insect pests and sustainable postharvest management should be developed to improve the capacity of the small-scale farmers in Rusitu Valley.

Keywords: Small-scale farmers, postharvest losses, pests and diseases, fruit value chain

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ISSN (Paper)2224-6088 ISSN (Online)2225-0557

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