The Fiji Islands, like many small Pacific island nations, are thought to incur high rates of postharvest loss. Little work has been undertaken to quantify the amount of loss within Pacific horticultural value chains, or identify the key determinants. This study sought to quantify postharvest loss within Fijian smallholder tomato value chains and to examine the relative importance of current on-farm practices as possible contributors to this loss. A semi-structured survey of 115 smallholder tomato farmers in Sigatoka Valley and eastern Viti Levu was undertaken, covering socio-economic and demographic parameters, production and postharvest handling practice, and postharvest loss based on farmer recall. On-farm postharvest loss for smallholder farmer tomato value chains was between 26.1% in Sigatoka Valley and 27.6% in eastern Viti Levu. This finding was consistent with quantification of postharvest loss in Fijian tomato chains by direct determination, but is relatively high when compared to smallholder tomato value chain loss in Sub-Saharan Africa. When Fijian tomato value chains were segregated according to specific postharvest handling practice, the contributors to postharvest loss were often associated with on-farm decision-making. Those value chains that only harvested once a week, or in the early morning (before 7 am) or mid-day onwards, stored harvest product in the field for more than three hours, did not sort or grade prior to on-farm ripening, or used packing sheds that had relatively open designs, all had consistently higher levels of postharvest loss. The prevalence of specific postharvest handling practice in both locations is further reported. While this study highlights the impact of current on-farm postharvest handling practices on tomato value chain loss, what remain unclear are the underlying drivers associated with current postharvest handling behaviour and the decision-making that shapes quality and logistic control activities.
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