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Nature and Extent of Extension Delivery on Postharvest Handling of Horticultural Perishables in the Philippines

While postharvest operations account for more than 55 percent of the economic value of the agricultural sector, losses are high, the science or technology is relatively new, and the postharvest horticulture extension delivery system in the Philippines has not met the challenge. Thus, the delivery of extension services to the people involved needed to be assessed. Primary data from key informant interviews and secondary data from available publications and reports were analyzed. The two major extension providers for postharvest handling of fresh fruits, vegetables, and cut flowers are the Postharvest Horticulture Training and Research Center (PHTRC) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), and the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA). From 2000–2010, the PHTRC implemented 93 percent of national extension projects and services in terms of training (51 training programs with 1,132 participants), technical assistance, production and dissemination of information (24 extension materials with 21,105 copies), and a few action research projects. On the other hand, out of the remaining 7 percent of the extension projects, which were implemented by PhilMech, 99 percent were related to development and establishment of tramlines, cold chain facilities, and facilities support for hot water tanks and packinghouses including 16 training programs with 437 participants. The number of extension workers, who have been trained over the last three decades and who could be potential trainers of growers and traders, was only 4.8 percent of the total number of participants of training programs of both institutions. The number of personnel in extension delivery was also reduced due to budget constraints for PHTRC and rationalization moves for PhilMech. Twenty-five personnel, 10 from PHTRC and 15 from PhilMech rendered extension services. All PHTRC staff and three from PhilMech were trained on perishables handling. Government support for the extension delivery of postharvest handling of horticultural perishables remains negligible. The major recommendations to improve the extension delivery system on postharvest horticulture sector are training of more extension workers in this field and establishment of zonal centers on postharvest research and extension.

Vol. 13 No. 1, June 2016

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