Professor Tilahun Seyoum Workneh
Integrated Innovative Postharvest Technologies to Reduce Losses of Horticultural Crops
African countries have a range of climates that are favourable for the production of horticultural crops. These countries have attempted to intensify production. However, production in Africa is lower when compared to other continents. Also, the production has not been consistent over successive years. The reason for this is, that there is a little emphasis on innovation and implementation of post-harvest technologies in the horticultural value chain, which is vital to stimulate the desired high harvest yields and reduce losses. The availability of affordable post-harvest technology is of the upmost important to meet consistently high productivity and the making available of high-quality fresh produce in markets. Advanced post-harvest technologies which utilise complex machines that consume high energy are expensive for stakeholders in Sub-Saharan Africa. Affordable low-cost innovative post-harvest technologies have been developed and are ready for implementation as intermediate technology to solve produce losses and ease food security challenges that the continent is facing. Several innovative and affordable coolers were developed, including a naturally ventilated, single-pad and multi-pad evaporative coolers. Integrated post-harvest technologies combining environmentally friendly disinfection treatment and evaporative cooling were developed and have proven effective in extending the shelf life of horticultural crops. These integrated post-harvest technologies were found to be effective under hot arid and semi-arid conditions.
Professor Tilahun Seyoum Workneh is an academic staff of the discipline of Bioresources Engineering of the School of Engineering, University of KawZulu-Natal. He received his BSc degree in Agricultural Engineering from Haramaya University in 1990, MEngSc in Agricultural and Food Engineering degree from the National University of Ireland (University College Dublin) in 1996 and PhD degree Food Science from The University of Free State in 2003. In 1990, immediately after completing his undergraduate study, he was remained in higher education as a graduate assistant to develop his career in academia. In 1993, he was awarded the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs Scholarship to study at the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture of the University College Dublin, Ireland. In 2000, he was awarded United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) scholarship for his PhD studies in Food Biotechnology at the University of Free State, South Africa. He received the University of KwaZulu-Natal, School of Engineering best lecturer and research excellence awards twice and eight times during the academic year from 2011-2018, respectively.
He has over 28 years of experience in a multidisciplinary research of Agricultural Engineering, Postharvest Technology and teaching various courses in Agricultural Engineering, Food Science and Postharvest Technology curricula. His research interest includes heat and mass transfer, hybrid drying technology, food processing and preservation technologies, optimization and modelling of food processes, postharvest technology and process engineering of fruit and vegetables, food quality and food safety engineering, engineered systems for food production, environmental modification and control for biological systems.
He has published over 110 scientific articles in peer reviewed international and local journals in multi-disciplinary research areas of agricultural processing, food science and postharvest technology, environmental control for biological commodities and renewable energy. He delivered over 60 papers presentations in conferences, symposiums and workshops organised by Agricultural and Food Engineering and Science professional organisations. He trained over 35 MSc and PhD students (17 females, 18 males) and 4 postdoctoral fellows for South Africa and the other regions in Africa. He is a C2 NRF rated researcher. He developed low-cost appropriate cooling technologies that he proved that they could assist in the extension of shelf life of fruit and vegetables. He developed an integrated postharvest technology by combining pre-harvest and postharvest treatments of fruit and vegetables. He is a fellow of the South African Institute of Agricultural Engineers (SAIAE), professional member South African Association of Food Science and Technology (SAAoFST) and a member of American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.