THE EFFECT OF POST-HARVEST HANDLING ON THE QUALITY AND MARKETABILITY OF LOCALLY HARVESTED TOMATO
1.1 Background of the study
Tomato (Lycopersiconesculentum Mill.) is one of the vegetables with the highest production in the world and its production is increasing all over the world. Tomato is rich in minerals, vitamins, essential amino acids, sugars and dietary fibers (Ayandiji et al., 2011). World tomato production in 2001 was about 105 million tons of fresh fruit from an estimated 3.9 million ha. As it is a relatively short duration crop and gives a high yield, it is economically attractive and the area under cultivation is increasing daily. Tomato belongs to the Solanaceae family. This family also includes other well-known species, such as potato, tobacco, peppers and eggplant. Tomatoes contribute to a healthy, well-balanced diet. They are rich in minerals, vitamins, essential amino acids, sugars and dietary fibres. Tomato contains much vitamin B and C, iron and phosphorus. Tomato fruits are consumed fresh in salads or cooked in sauces, soup and meat or fish dishes. They can be processed into purées, juices and ketchup. Canned and dried tomatoes are economically important processed products. Tomato is an annual plant, which can reach a height of over two metres. In South America, however, the same plants can be harvested for several years in succession. The first harvest is possible 45-55 days after flowering, or 90-120 days after sowing. The shape of the fruit differs per cultivar. The colour ranges from yellow to red. In Ethiopia, tomato is one the important and widely grown vegetable crops. Both in rainy and dry seasons for their fruits by smallholder farmers and commercial state and private farm in Ethiopia (Ambecha et al.,2012;MoA,2013;AVRDC,2014).It is also a source of basic raw material required for fresh consumption and local processing industry for the production of processed Tomato like Tomato paste, Tomato juice and etc.(EIA,2008). Lemma et al. (2003) indicated that the total production of Tomato in Ethiopia has shown market increase ,indicating that it has became the most profitable crop providing a higher income to small scale farmers compared to other vegetable crops.However,average yield of Tomato in Ethiopia is low,ranging from 6.5-24 metric ton/ha(Ambecha et al.,2012)as compared with average yields of 51,41,36 and 34 metric tonne/ha in America,Europe,Asia and the entire world, respectively (FAOSTAT,2010).The national average of Tomato seed yield under farmers ‘conditions in Ethiopia is also very low, estimated at about 1.2 quintals /ha (Lemma,2002). Seeds are one of the least expensive but most important factors influencing yield potential. Crop seeds contain all the genetic information to determine yield potential, adaptation to environmental conditions, and resistance to insect pest and disease. Increasing agricultural production through the use of high quality seed, among other agricultural inputs, has become essential for providing enough food for rising number of people in the world (Barsa, 2006).