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The effect of packaging material and storage method on shelf life and post harvest loses of cocoyam cormels (Xanthosoma mafaffa) Schott
Poor harvesting, packaging, and storage practices harm cocoyam (Xanthosoma spp) cormels resulting in short shelf life and post harvest loses. Packaging materials namely, jute sack and woven polypropylene sack, and storage methods namely, storage in moistened ‘wawa’ sawdust and on platform in open-air were employed in the storage of cocoyam cormels, purchased from the open markets in the Greater Accra Region, to determine the packaging material(s) and storage method(s) most efficient and ideal for prolonging shelf life and reducing post harvest loses of cocoyam cormels. Most of the fungal species encountered were wound pathogens, belonging to five different genera: Aspergillus, Fusarium, Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Lasiodiplodia. The resident mycoflora in the cormels increased from an initial 3.0 - 3.5 log10 CFU to 4.2 – 5.3 log10 CFU/g in 30 days. Of all the Aspergillus species encountered, only A. fumigates failed to colonize the cormels upon inoculation. The presence of these fungi on the cocoyam cormels varied according to the type of packaging material and storage method employed. Packaging in woven polypropylene sack and storage on platform in open-air recorded higher mycoflora population, and were also less suitable for prolonging shelf life and reducing post harvest loses of cocoyam cormels. Jute sack, and moistened ‘wawa’ sawdust were the better packaging material and storage method respectively. Storage in moistened ‘wawa’ sawdust for 50 days, did not significantly affect the texture and the nutritional status of the cormels. Overall, the red cocoyam variety stored better than the white variety.