The first day that Frits Popma started working with bananas, he thought about doing something else. Almost thirty years later he is still working with bananas and flies around the world to give advice on ripening the popular fruit. All this knowledge and experience, which has earned him our title of the banana professor, has now been bundled into a chapter in the recently published book Achieving sustainable cultivation of bananas.
The book consists of three parts, with a total of fifteen chapters, and gives an overview of the global banana chain. The book was written by editors Gert Kema (Wageningen University) and André Drenth (University of Queensland). "I was invited by Gert Kema and André Drenth to write the chapter on ripening," says Frits. Within the sector he is known as an expert in the area of ripening. "I'm proud to be a part of this. I won't live forever and it would be a shame if all the knowledge I've collected over the last thirty years was lost," explains Frits.
In the chapter Frits talks in detail about the ripening techniques, the logistics and the various systems that are used. These range from using ice to cool in India, which means that bananas are under-cooled, to the high tech solutions produced by Dutch companies. "Dutch companies have systems that save energy and offer a better quality."
"I tried to write it in purely business terms and word everything as simply as possible so it wasn't too technical," he clarifies. "The book has to be easy to read for a ripener." There is no specific education for a ripener. Young ripeners learn the techniques from the older generation. "This brings with it the mistakes of this generation. I took those out."
The chapter has everything necessary to become the first standard work for ripeners. This includes a clear SOP. "This describes the procedures that you have to follow as a ripener to do your work well. If something goes wrong, you can look back at where it went wrong and the customer can possibly join you." Frits does emphasise that the book should be read like a cookbook. "Every ripener is different, so you have to adapt the techniques to your circumstances," he clarifies.
The book is published by the British publisher Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing and can be ordered online through the publisher.
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