Postharvest handling systems in the South Pacific are often subject to poor on-farm practices and inconsistent supply chain logistics. Previous studies have highlighted temperature management as particularly problematic. One challenge in seeking to improve handling practices and associated product quality is limited postharvest knowledge and capacity amongst supply chain participants. This paper outlines participatory research undertaken with smallholder farmers in Fiji and the Solomon Island to assess key postharvest thermal risk factors along four fruit and vegetable supply chains. In seeking to combine diagnostic and educational outcomes, a comparatively novel approach of using digital infrared thermal imaging, laser-point thermometer, micro-temperature sensors and reversible chromatic temperature labels was used to help farmers improve ambient postharvest temperature management. Hand-held infrared thermal imagery proved a useful tool in allowing smallholder farmers to visualise and then explore on-farm postharvest thermal risks factors. To provide farmers with ongoing means for self-assessment and potentially remediate postharvest temperature management practices, low-cost reversible chromatic temperature labels were provided. Adhesive chromatic temperature labels were particularly suited to smallholder farm application as they could be placed throughout the packing shed and on postharvest equipment.
XXIX International Horticultural Congress on Horticulture: Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes (IHC2014): International Symposium on Horticulture in Developing Countries and World Food Production, Brisbane, Australia 17-22 August 2014