Application of Optimization and Statistical Techniques in Post-Harvest Supply Chain

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Fresh produce is an important part of life. The post-harvest supply chain (PHSC) focuses on the journey of produce from yielding in a farm to cleaning, grading, packaging, handling, transportation, storage, distribution, food-processing, retail and exports, etc. The PHSCs are practiced across the globe to deliver various fresh produces to the end customer. The PHSCs are often referred to as fresh supply chains, food supply chains and cold chains etc. The different PHSCs for various produce require a specific level of packaging, handling, ventilated/refrigerated storage during transportation to retain quality and yield best values. It is also well known that one-third of the annually grown produce worldwide are spoilt at various PHSC junctions. The PHSC losses occur mainly due to microbial damage (Kereth et al., 2013), physical damage (Barker et ah, 2017) and temperature abuse (Aung and Chang, 2014; Ndraha et ah, 2018), etc. Efforts are continuously made by researchers to make the PHSCs responsive, cost-efficient, quality-efficient and sustainable. The optimization of PHSCs have become a crucial task with a sequence of depleting natural resources and an increasing carbon footprint. Thus, the significant issues in the PHSCs are to be addressed with the help of statistical, empirical and operational approaches. The PHSC losses occurring at every junction of the chain have been assessed for various produce in the literature to mitigate the financial and produce losses. Although, finding the voids between existing studies, modernization, real-life practice and implementations is a persistent process. There are a total of 8,038 cold storages in India, 1,540 godowns associated with Food Corporation of India, and 1,831 warehouses available with state warehousing corporations in India across the nation (includes privately owned, cooperatives and government regulated) (Indiastat, 2019a). There’s 76.15 lakh tonnes of warehousing capacity available in India provided by Central Warehousing Corporation in India (Indiastat, 2019b). India is the nation with second longest road network in the world i.e. 4,320,000 km (, 2019). The Indian railway comprises the fourth longest route length in the world i.e. 67,368 km (Wikipedia, 2019). The annual demand for domestic air freight is predicted to become 1.1 million tonnes by the year 2025 in India (Economic Times, 2019). Thus, there is a lot of potential to efficiently plan and research over warehousing, routing and mode of transportation for time-bound commodities.


The PHSC loss situation is observed by the researchers since ages when the term “post-harvest losses” was addressed by Bourne (1977). The theoretical, experimental, analytical, exploratory, empirical research articles are based on optimization models and statistical studies. The post-harvest loss situation, in-house utility and produce export issues are reported across the world, and that includes developed nations, developing nations, underdeveloped nations, cold-climate nations, arid nations, etc. In the recent times, the causal factors leading to PHSC losses are highlighted by an array of researchers (Gardas et al., 2017; Raut et al., 2018; Bendinelli et al., 2019). The following review methodology explains the process adapted to perform the study.

7.2.1 Review Methodology

The literature review methodology includes the segregation of fundamental information from the literature survey covering the key studies presented with empirical, statistical and optimization approaches performed along different stages of supply chain. The researches performed at different stages considered in the work are organized with respect to farmer level, warehousing, transportation and handling, manufacturing and processing, markets and retail, and supply chain as a whole. The key studies are tabulated in Table 7.1 below. The table highlights stage-wise studies performed by an array of researchers to reduce PHSC losses:

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