The guava (Psidium guajava) grows on farms or in the bush in many parts of Kenya, including Kitui and Taita Taveta, and remains virtually unattended. Guava fruit value chain is commercially disorganized and standard postharvest handling and storage procedures are not practiced as there is no bulk handling. This study evaluated the harvesting and postharvest handling practices of the guava fruit in two counties of Kenya. A total of 417 farmers were selected from the two counties (Kitui, n=214 and Taita Taveta, n=203). Using a structured questionnaire, data was collected utilizing Open Data Kit (ODK). Results showed that the main indicative maturity indices in Kitui and Taita Taveta were skin color (98.59 and 92.12%) and full ripe (38.79 and 18.72%) respectively. Results indicated that no packaging was done at farm level as only small quantities were harvested. Storage period was short (< 4 days) mainly to await consumption as reported by 41.6 and 55.2% handlers in Kitui and Taita Taveta, respectively. A cluster analysis of hygiene and postharvest handling practices indicated that Kitui farmers were more knowledgeable (71.9%) as compared to Taita Taveta (49.8%). Additionally, female farmers were more knowledgeable (65.4%) on postharvest handling than males (55.4%). Postharvest handling practices were informal with little packaging, poor hygiene practices, short term storage and informal marketing of small quantities in both Counties.
Key words: Guavas, postharvest, preservation, postharvest handling, hygiene, postharvest losses.
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