1.1 Background of the Study
Fruits and vegetables are of great nutritional value. They are important sources of vitamins and minerals thus, essential components of human diet. Consequent upon this, there had been increased trade or commerce activities surrounding these commodities. Vegetable production forms a substantial percentage about 25% of the major food crops cultivated in the tropics and so it is the source of livelihood for a considerable section of the population (Idah, 2007).
Fruits and vegetables in their fresh forms contain high percentage of water. They are living and hence carry out their physiological function of respiration thereby absorbing and releasing gases and other materials from and to their environment. These activities lead to their deterioration in transit and storage, which is more rapid under conditions of high temperature and humidity. As a result, heavy losses are encountered in these produce. Fruit and vegetable are generally classified as perishable crop if not quickly preserved when harvest they shrivel wither or rot away rapidly especially under hot condition. Highly perishable ones likes’ leafy vegetables, tomatoes asparagus etc. even in storage have a recommended refrigeration storage life of less than one week (Ndukwu, 2011).
Fruit and vegetable are fundamentally different from most other produce which is sold stored in the fresh (unfroze) state in that they are living they respires thus suitable ventilation must be provided. During cold storage they undergo characteristic change of senescence and of ripening of fruit (Cantwell, 2001).
Storage has been developed to ensure the supply of an agriculture product to consumers with minimized quality degradation. Orderly marketing of perishable commodities often requires some storage to balance day- to- day fluctuation between product harvest and sales or for long term storage to extend market period. (Tripath and Bhat 2000).
Cold room storage generally tends to depict the views and ideas of a system that embarks on a continual extraction of heat from its body whose temperature is already below its surrounding temperature. Thus, refrigeration inevitably is the only means of preserving food in its original freshness. (Ugwuet al, 2012).