Value addition – is the process of changing or transforming a product from its original state to a more valuable state.
Shelf life – the length of time for which an item remains usable, fit for consumption, or sealable.
Post harvest handling – is the stage of crop production immediately following harvest, including cooling, cleaning, sorting and packing.
Where does it begin?
Value addition begins from the farm/ field.
Post-harvest losses occur in the period between harvesting and consumption
Due to heavy post harvest losses, there is a considerable gap between tomato and availability of quality produce in the market.
Thus, there is an urgent need to adopt proper post harvest management practices by adopting improved; packaging, handling and efficient transportation methods.
Factors affecting shelf life
Pre harvest factors
- Pruning-flowers, fruits, or fruit trusses pruning in tomatoes is an effective way of reducing the competition between fruits hence achieving desired fruit size.
- Maturity stage-Tomato can be harvested at different stages during maturity, g. mature green, half ripen, or red ripen stage.
- Fertilizer application
Note:Potassium: improves fruit color and reduces incidents of yellow shoulder
Postharvest Factors Affecting the Quality of Tomatoes
Temperature -High temperatures can hasten the rate of respiration (CO2 production) in harvested or stored fruits products.
Relative Humidity -At high relative humidity, harvested fruits maintain their nutritional quality, appearance, weight, and flavor, whilst reducing the rate at which wilting, softening, and juiciness occur.
What are the minimum requirements for classification of fresh produce?
i.Free from chemical contaminants
ii.Free from any dangerous organisms
iii.Free from any odours
iv.Free from fungus growth.
v.Free from insects.
Types of packaging materials for fresh produce
1. Basket made of woven strips of leaves, bamboo, plastic etc.
2. Sacks: flexible, made of plastic or jute.
3. Bags: small size sacks
4. Nets: sacks made of open mesh
5. Wooden crates
6. Fibreboard boxes
i) Solid fibreboard boxes
ii) Corrugated fibreboard boxes
7. Plastic crates
8. Biodegradable plastics
9. New innovations in packaging of fruits, vegetables and root crops
10. Pallet boxes and shipping containers
Packaging materials serve the following purposes
1. As an efficient handling unit
2. Protection from mechanical damage
3. Protection against moisture loss
4. Provides clean and sanitary storage
5. Prevention of pilferage
6. Provides sales and service motivation
7. Reduces cost of transport and marketing
Precautionary measures during packing
1.Containers should not be filled either too loosely or too tightly because loose products may vibrate against each other and cause bruising
2. Over-packing results in compression bruising
3. Proper filling along with cushioning can minimize bruising damage
You can process tomato into;
Drying tomatoes as a value addition option
Dehydration removes water from tomatoes in order to preserve them.Best tomato to dry are dry , firm and meaty.
Factors that determine the drying period
ii.Humidity during drying
iii.Thickness of slices of the tomatoes
iv.Efficiency of drier
Successful dehydration is dependent on air circulation and temperature. Too low a temperature the tomatoes will dry too slowly, giving bacteria or mold a chance to grow. While high temp. above 77 degree tomatoes cook and harden from outside. Properly dried tomatoes have a dark red color and feel dry and leathery, but not hard or brittle.
In conclusion, value addition products are limited only by your imagination. You may decide to come up with a single product or a whole range. Or even throw caution to the wind and produce a little bit of everything. But always have in mind your business plan. Who is the market for your value-added product (s)? How will you advertise? Will you sell directly to consumers or to wholesalers or retail establishments?