Posthaverst and Agroprocessing Research Centre

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Overview of Postharvest Management and Agroprocessing

Postharvest management and agroprocessing technologies represent crucial stages and practices in the agricultural value chain, aimed at preserving food quality, extending shelf life, and adding value to agricultural produce. These fields encompass a range of practices, techniques, and technologies applied after harvest to maintain the quality and safety of food products and prepare them for the market and consumption.

Postharvest management focuses on handling, storing, and preserving fruits, vegetables, and other perishable agricultural commodities after harvest. The goal is to minimise losses, maintain nutritional quality, and extend the marketability of produce. This includes temperature management, controlled atmosphere storage, drying, and applying chemical treatments or natural alternatives like edible coatings to prevent spoilage and decay.

Agroprocessing involves transforming raw agricultural materials into finished products or ingredients for further manufacturing. It plays a vital role in increasing the value of agricultural produce, enhancing food security by producing shelf-stable products, and contributing to economic development by creating market opportunities for farmers and entrepreneurs. Agroprocessing includes activities such as milling, canning, drying, juicing, and extracting valuable compounds from agricultural waste (valorisation), promoting the efficient use of resources and supporting a circular food economy.

The integration of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Technologies in postharvest and agroprocessing systems introduces innovative approaches for improving efficiency and sustainability. Machine learning algorithms, non-destructive testing methods, biosensors, and blockchain technology offer new possibilities for tracking produce quality, optimising processing parameters, and ensuring traceability and transparency in the supply chain.

At the Postharvest and Agroprocessing Research Centre (PARC), our research endeavours are aligned with the latest advancements in these fields. We are committed to developing sustainable, innovative solutions that address the challenges of postharvest losses, food waste, and the need for efficient agroprocessing methods. Through our collaborative projects, we aim to enhance the resilience of food systems, contribute to environmental sustainability, and support the growth of the agricultural sector in metropolitan areas across Africa.

Our Vision

To become the centre of excellence in value-added postharvest and agroprocessing research in African metropolitan areas.

Our Mission

The Postharvest and Agroprocessing Research Centre (PARC) is dedicated to advancing the horticultural and food industries through responsive research anchored on academic excellence, capacity building, and partnerships. We offer short courses/training and exchange programs and conduct pioneering research to meet the specific needs of the industry and society.

Our research and development activities are categorised into three main areas:

  1. Sustainable Postharvest Preservation: Focusing on novel technologies to optimise the quality and safety of horticultural, indigenous, and medicinal crops.
  2. Agroprocessing & Valorisation: Aiming at dehydration and value-adding potentials to minimise food losses and support a circular economy.
  3. Applications of 4IR Technologies: Exploring machine learning, non-destructive techniques, biosensors, and blockchain technologies for smarter postharvest and agroprocessing systems.

At PARC, our research spans multiple interconnected areas:

  • Development of sustainable material-enhanced multifunctional biodegradable packaging films for postharvest loss reduction.
  • Sustainable pre-drying and drying techniques for fresh produce stabilisation.
  • Alternatives to plastic packaging and synthetic chemicals for fruit and vegetable exports.
  • Bioprospecting and valorisation of crop-based residues.
  • Indigenous Knowledge Systems-enhanced food preservation
  • Nanotechnology-enhanced postharvest preservation of horticultural crops
  • Implementation of 4IR technologies in postharvest horticulture.
  • Mapping of postharvest losses and waste in metropolitan regions.
  • Assessment of agro-chain greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Maturity indexing for new cultivars and underutilised crops.
  • Techno-economic analysis of postharvest and processing technologies.

We are proud to collaborate with esteemed institutions worldwide, including Zhejiang University, University of Pardubice, UNESCO International Centre for Biotechnology, NIFTEM India, Agricultural Research Council (South Africa), University of Limpopo (South Africa), Stellenbosch University (South Africa), North-West University, Pomegranate Association of South Africa (POMASA), and others, enhancing our research capabilities and impact. We welcome enquiries regarding partnerships, collaboration, postgraduate studies and internships.

The Postharvest and Agroprocessing Research Centre (PARC) aligns its research and development activities with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), demonstrating a strong commitment to sustainable, inclusive growth and environmental stewardship. Through its focus on developing multifunctional biodegradable packaging films, sustainable drying techniques for fresh produce, and innovative edible coatings for food preservation, PARC directly contributes to SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) by promoting sustainable food processing and reducing food waste. Moreover, its efforts in valorising crop-based residues address SDG 13 (Climate Action) by mitigating greenhouse gas emissions associated with food waste.

By improving the shelf life and quality of horticultural produce, PARC supports SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), ensuring food security and improved nutrition. Additionally, PARC’s commitment to developing 4IR technologies in postharvest horticulture aids in achieving SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) by fostering innovation in sustainable food systems. Through collaborative research with international partners and the training of postgraduate students, PARC also advances SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals), highlighting the importance of global collaboration in addressing complex sustainability challenges.

Our protocols encompass comprehensive analyses for quality assessment, including:

  • Physical quality assessment
  • Chemical quality assessment
  • Advanced cell wall, cuticle and enzyme analyses
  • Phytochemical analysis
  • Antioxidant activity evaluation using various assays
  • Antimicrobial assays
  • Green synthesis of metal oxide nanomaterials
  • Customised freeze-drying protocols for various commodities
  • Customised encapsulation protocols for specific polyphenolic-rich extracts
  • Plant extraction techniques

PARC is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities to support our research endeavours:

Sample Preparation Equipment

  • Blender: For homogenising samples.
  • Coffee Grinder: For grinding dry samples.
  • Juice Extractor: For extracting juice from fruits and vegetables.
  • Homogeniser & Homogeniser SHM2: For creating uniform sample mixtures.
  • Microwave Oven: For quick heating or drying of samples.
  • Multifunctional Vegetable Safe Slicer: For slicing vegetables safely.

Analytical Instruments

  • Automated Laboratory Titrator: For precise titration analysis.
  • Bench Photometer: For measuring light intensity or concentration of solutes.
  • Centrifuge: For separating substances of different densities.
  • Chromameters (CR 400 & CR10): For precise colour measurement.
  • Conductivity Meter: For measuring electrical conductivity in a solution.
  • Digital Hand Refractometers: For measuring the refractive index of liquids.
  • Infrared O2/CO2 Gas Analyser: For measuring oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.
  • Moisture Analyser: For determining moisture content in samples.
  • pH Meter: For measuring the acidity or alkalinity of solutions.
  • UV-visible Spectrophotometer/microplate Reader: For measuring light absorption or concentration of analytes.
  • Microprocessor Conductivity Fertilizer Meter: For assessing fertiliser concentrations.

Data Logging and Monitoring

  • CO2/Temp./RH Data Logger: For recording carbon dioxide levels, temperature, and humidity.
  • Ethylene Analyser: For measuring ethylene gas concentration.
  • Ebro EBI300 Data Logger: For temperature monitoring during storage or transport.
  • Infrared Thermometer: For non-contact temperature measurement.

Preservation, Heating, and Storage Equipment

  • Freeze Dryers: For lyophilising samples for preservation.
  • Refrigerators & Upright Freezers: For storing samples at controlled temperatures.
  • Rotary Evaporator: For efficiently removing solvents from samples under reduced pressure.
  • Cold Rooms: For storing large samples at controlled temperatures and relative humidities.
  • Oven Furnace & Cabinet Oven: For high-temperature sample processing and drying.
  • Water Bath: For controlled heating of samples.
  • Autoclave: For sterilisation of equipment and media.

Physical Property Measurement

  • Digital Vernier Calliper: For precise measurement of dimensions.
  • Diameter Cylindrical Probe & Firmness Analyser (5 mm diameter cylindrical probe): For measuring firmness and texture of samples.
  • Electronic Weighing Scale: For accurate mass measurement.
  • Grain Moisture Tester: For determining moisture content in grains.
  • Penetrometer: For measuring the hardness of fruits.
  • Texture Analyser: For testing food texture and consistency.

Imaging and Photographic Equipment

  • Camera: For capturing detailed images of samples and experimental setups for documentation and analysis.
  • Labelling machine: For labelling dried and packaged ready-for-market products.

Miscellaneous Laboratory Equipment

  • Fan: For air-drying under a stream of air.
  • Hot Air Oven: For drying or sterilisation of equipment.
  • Impulse Sealer: For sealing sample bags.
  • Coating Spray Gun/sprayer: For applying coatings or treatments.
  • Photo System Instrument: For analysing photosynthetic parameters.

Other capital-intensive facilities are accessible at Spectrum (The Central Analytical Facility of the Faculty of Science, University of Johannesburg)

2024 Publications:

  1. Pfukwa, TM; Motlhalamme, TY; Setati, ME; Fawole, OA; Manley, M; et al. “Comparative transcriptomic effects of Harpephyllum caffrum extracts and sodium metabisulphite on hydrogen peroxide stressed Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells using RNA-seq.” Food Bioscience, 57, 103464, 2024, Elsevier.
  2. Opara, UL; Hussein, Z; Fawole, O. “Bruise Damage Susceptibility of Pomegranates.” In Mechanical Damage in Fresh Horticultural Produce: Measurement, Analysis and Control, 2024, Springer Nature.
  3. Fadiji, T; Kaseke, T; Lufu, R; Li, Z; Opara, UL; Fawole, OA. “Impact of Packaging on Bruise Damage of Fresh Produce.” In Mechanical Damage in Fresh Horticultural Produce: Measurement, Analysis and Control, 2024, Springer Nature.
  4. Ngcobo, BL; Fawole, OA. “Plant-Based Fixed Oil in Edible Coating Formulation for Postharvest Preservation of Horticultural Crops.” In Postharvest Physiology and Handling of Horticultural Crops, 12, 2024, CRC Press.
  5. Muradoğlu, F; Güler, E; Akkuş, G; Başak, İ; Fawole, OA. “Pomegranate’s (Punica granatum L.) fruit quality and nutrient content are influenced by soil fraction × root architecture interaction.” Annals of Applied Biology, 2024, 1–12, Wiley.
  6. Nxumalo, KA; Fawole, OA; Aremu, AO. “Development of Chitosan-Based Active Films with Medicinal Plant Extracts for Potential Food Packaging Applications.” Processes, 12(1): 23, 2024, MDPI.
  7. Fawole, OA. “Recent Advances in Improvement of Postharvest Application of Edible Coatings on Fruit.” In Postharvest Physiology and Handling of Horticultural Crops, 330-341, 2024, CRC Press.
  8. Shinga, MH; Fawole, OA. “Layer-by-Layer Application of Edible Coatings in Postharvest Handling of Horticultural Crops.” In Postharvest Physiology and Handling of Horticultural Crops, 318-329, 2024, CRC Press.

2023 Publications:

  1. Lin, Menghua; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos; Saeys, Wouter; Wu, Di; Wang, Jun; Opara, Umezuruike Linus; Nicolai, Bart; Chen, Kunsong. “Mechanical damages and packaging methods along the fresh fruit supply chain: A review.” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 63(30): 10283-10302, 2023, Taylor & Francis.
  2. Shinga, Mawande Hugh; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos. “Opuntia ficus indica mucilage coatings regulate cell wall softening enzymes and delay the ripening of banana fruit stored at retail conditions.” International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 2023, Elsevier.
  3. Leta, Tshiamo B; Adeyemi, Jerry O; Fawole, Olaniyi A. “Valorisation of pomegranate processing waste for the synthesis of ZnO nanoparticles: antioxidant and antimicrobial properties against food pathogens.” Materials Research Express, 10(11): 115401, 2023, IOP Publishing.
  4. Makhathini, Noluthando; Kaseke, Tafadzwa; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos. “Microencapsulation of organic pomegranate peel extract for a food circular economy: Effects of wall materials on powder functional attributes, antioxidant activity and antimicrobial property against foodborne pathogens.” Journal of Agriculture and Food Research, 14, 2023, Elsevier.
  5. Mwelase, Sbulelo; Kaseke, Tafadzwa; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos. “Development and optimization of methylcellulose-based edible coating using response surface methodology for improved quality management of ready-to-eat pomegranate arils.” CyTA-Journal of Food, 21(1): 656-665, 2023, Taylor & Francis.
  6. Nxumalo, Kwanele A; Fawole, Olaniyi A. “Chitosan-Bidens pilosa Extract-Based Coating with Enhanced Free Radical Scavenging, Antifungal, and Water Barrier Properties: Metabolite Profiling, Film Characterization, and Raspberry Preservation.” Journal of Food Quality, 2023, Hindawi.

2022 Publications:

  1. Pfukwa, Trust M; Fawole, Olaniyi A; Manley, Marena; Mapiye, Cletos. “Phenolic profiling and antioxidant evaluation of extracts from Southern African indigenous fruits byproducts.” Food Research International, 157: 111388, 2022, Elsevier.
  2. Magangana, Tandokazi Pamela; Makunga, Nokwanda P; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos; Stander, Maria A; Opara, Umezuruike Linus. “Antioxidant, antimicrobial, and metabolomic characterization of blanched pomegranate peel extracts: Effect of cultivar.” Molecules, 27(9): 2979, 2022, MDPI.
  3. Kawhena, Tatenda Gift; Opara, Umezuruike Linus; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos. “Effects of gum arabic coatings enriched with lemongrass essential oil and pomegranate peel extract on quality maintenance of pomegranate whole fruit and arils.” Foods, 11(4): 593, 2022, MDPI.
  4. Rao, Jingshan; Shen, Chaoyi; Yang, Zhichao; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos; Li, Jiawen; Yang, Xiangzheng; Zhang, Hui; Li, Jiangkuo; Wu, Di; Chen, Kunsong. “Facile microfluidic fabrication and characterization of ethyl cellulose/PVP films with neatly arranged fibers.” Carbohydrate Polymers, 292: 119702, 2022, Elsevier.
  5. Bhardwaj, Renu; Aghdam, Morteza Soleimani; Arnao, Marino Bañon; Brecht, Jeffrey K; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos; Pareek, Sunil. “Melatonin alleviates chilling injury symptom development in mango fruit by maintaining intracellular energy and cell wall and membrane stability.” Frontiers in Nutrition, 9: 936932, 2022, Frontiers.
  6. Nxumalo, Kwanele Andy; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos; Oluwafemi, Oluwatobi Samuel. “Evaluating the efficacy of gum arabic-zinc oxide nanoparticles composite coating on shelf-life extension of mandarins (cv. kinnow).” Frontiers in Plant Science, 13: 953861, 2022, Frontiers.
  7. Singla, Mohit; Pareek, Sunil; Kumar, Nishant; Sagar, Narashans Alok; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos. “Chitosan-cinnamon oil coating maintains quality and extends shelf life of ready-to-use pomegranate arils under low-temperature storage.” Journal of Food Quality, 2022, Hindawi.

2021 Publications:

  1. Arendse, Ebrahiema; Nieuwoudt, Helene; Magwaza, Lembe Samukelo; Nturambirwe, Jean Fredric Isingizwe; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos; Opara, Umezuruike Linus. “Recent advancements on vibrational spectroscopic techniques for the detection of authenticity and adulteration in horticultural products with a specific focus on oils, juices and powders.” Food and Bioprocess Technology, 14, 1-22, 2021, Springer US.
  2. Kaseke, Tafadzwa; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos; Opara, Umezuruike Linus. “Effect of microwave pretreatment of seeds on the quality and antioxidant capacity of pomegranate seed oil.” Foods, 9(9): 1287, 2020, MDPI.
  3. Riva, Shannon Claudia; Opara, Umezuruike L; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos. “Recent developments on postharvest application of edible coatings on stone fruit: A review.” Scientia Horticulturae, 262: 109074, 2020, Elsevier.
  4. Zonyane, Samkele; Fawole, Olaniyi A; La Grange, Chris; Stander, Maria A; Opara, Umezuruike L; Makunga, Nokwanda P. “The implication of chemotypic variation on the anti-oxidant and anti-cancer activities of Sutherlandia frutescens (L.) R. Br. (Fabaceae) from different geographic locations.” Antioxidants, 9(2): 152, 2020, MDPI.
  5. Hussein, Zaharan; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos; Opara, Umezuruike Obia. “Effects of bruising and storage duration on physiological response and quality attributes of pomegranate fruit.” Scientia Horticulturae, 267: 109306, 2020, Elsevier.
  6. Duan, Yuan; Wang, Guan-Bang; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos; Verboven, Pieter; Zhang, Xin-Rong; Wu, Di; Opara, Umezuruike Linus; Nicolai, Bart; Chen, Kunsong. “Postharvest precooling of fruit and vegetables: A review.” Trends in Food Science & Technology, 100: 278-291, 2020, Elsevier.
  7. Adetoro, Adegoke Olusesan; Tsige, Alemayehu Ambaw; Opara, Umezuruike Linus; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos. “Mathematical Modelling of Blanch-Assisted Drying of Pomegranate (Punica granatum) Arils in a Hot-Air Drier.” Processes, 8(5): 611, 2020, MDPI.
  8. Kaseke, Tafadzwa; Opara, Umezuruike Linus; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos. “Effect of blanching pomegranate seeds on physicochemical attributes, bioactive compounds and antioxidant activity of extracted oil.” Molecules, 25(11): 2554, 2020, MDPI.
  9. Olarewaju, Olaoluwa Omoniyi; Magwaza, Lembe Samukelo; Fawole, Olaniyi Amos; Tesfay, Samson Zeray; Opara, Umezuruike Linus. “Canopy position affect rind biochemical properties of ‘Marsh’grapefruit during postharvest cold storage at non-chilling temperature.” International Journal of Fruit Science, 20(sup2): S894-S909, 2020, Taylor & Francis.
  10. Olarewaju, OO; Magwaza, LS; Fawole, OA; Tesfay, SZ; Opara, UL. “Rapid and non-destructive determination of rind biochemical properties of ‘Marsh’ grapefruit using visible to near-infrared spectroscopy and chemometrics.” 2020, Elsevier.

Prof Olaniyi Amos Fawole
Professor and Director, PARC
Location: D2 LAB 240, Botany & Plant Biotechnology
Auckland Park Kingsway Campus
Tel: +27(0)11 559 7237; Email:


Ms. Mildred Muller
Administrator, PARC
Location: D 2 Lab 241, Botany & Plant Biotechnology
Auckland Park Kingsway Campus
Tel: +27(0)11 559 4553;;


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