Post harvest technology is inter-disciplinary “Science and Technique” applied to agricultural produce after harvest for its protection, conservation, processing, packaging, distribution, marketing, and utilization to meet the food and nutritional requirements of the people in relation to their needs. It has to develop in consonance with the needs of each society to stimulate agricultural production; prevent post-harvest losses, improve nutrition and add value to the products. In this process, it must be able to generate employment, reduce poverty and stimulate growth of other related economic sectors. The process of developing of post harvest technology and its purposeful use needs an inter-disciplinary and multi-dimensional approach, which must include, scientific creativity, technological innovations, commercial entrepreneurship and institutions capable of inter-disciplinary research and development all of which must respond in an integrated manner to the developmental needs.
The Importance of Post-harvest technology lies in the fact that it has capability to meet food requirement of growing population by eliminating avoidable losses making more nutritive food items from low grade raw commodity by proper processing and fortification, diverting portion of food material being fed to cattle by way of processing and fortifying low grade food and organic wastes and by-products into nutritive animal feed. Post-harvest technology has potential to create rural industries. In India, where 80 percent of people live in the villages and 70 percent depend on agriculture, the process of industrialization has shifted the food, feed and fiber industries to urban areas. This process has resulted in capital drain from rural to urban areas, decreased employment opportunities in the rural areas, balance of trade in favor of urban sector and mismatched growth in economy and standard of living including the gap between rural and urban people. It is possible to evolve appropriate technologies, which can establish agricultural based rural industries.
The purpose of post harvest processing is to maintain or enhance quality of the products and make it readily marketable. Prime example of post harvest processing of agricultural products is rice, a major crop in India. Paddy is harvested and processed into rice. Experiments with paddy crop in farmer’s field in India have shown that if the crop is harvested at 20 to 22 per cent moisture as traditionally done, the field yield is increased by 10 to 20 percent. Similar is the case with respect to wheat, jowar and other crops.