Agri Kultuur January / January 2018 - Page 50

Ancient fruit needs new guidelines Pia Nänny Packed with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, pomegranates’ status as a superfood is steadily growing. The increased demand, however, makes it essential to study this fruit in depth to provide science-based post-harvest solutions for industry. S outh Africa competes with countries such as Chile, Australia, Peru and Argentina to supply the off-season demands for pomegranates of consumers in the Northern Hemisphere. As such, the long supply chain is key to maintaining the commercial viability of this crop. Therefore, harvesting fruit at the optimum maturity level when quality (and optimum nutritional and medicinal values) can be ensured is essential for this specialty crop. In the interest of establishing and maintaining a competitive edge in the global market, there is also a need for an index of common disorders that compromise export quality, as well as for effective post-harvest management in the areas of packaging, storage and transport. This affects the processing options, packaging and marketability of the whole fruit in the overseas markets. Prof. Umezuruike Linus Opara, who holds the DST-NRF South African Research Chair in Post-harvest Technology in the Department Prof. Opara and his multi-disciplinary research team (back from left) Matia Mukama, Dr Alemayehu Ambaw Tsige, Dr Olaniyi Amos Fawole, Prof. Umezuruike Linus Opara and Dr William Mavengere; (front from left) Karen Munhuweyi, Tatenda Kawhena and Dr Rebogile Mphahlele. AgriKultuur |AgriCulture 50