Nutrition agency tackles tomato harvest loss
The recent training, held in Kaduna, had 30 participants from both public and private sectors as PLAN, an initiative of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), seeks to maximise Nigeria’s nutrition potential from tomato, in which it ranks as the 14th largest producer globally with an estimated annual output of 1.8 million metric tonnes.
According to PLAN, in spite of the high production rate, the demand gap is hardly met due to the colossal post-harvest losses occasioned by poor post-harvest management industry, thereby leading to low consumption of nutritious foods and reduced income for farmers.
It noted that the training was part of plans to mitigate these losses, which include proximate processing – processing close to production source – to make nutritious vegetables more available and accessible always.
The workshop, funded by The Netherlands Government, aimed to sensitise and stimulate the interest of farmers, co-operatives/aggregators, local women and youths, and entrepreneurs to the economic opportunities and nutritional benefits in post-harvest value-addition.
Participants were exposed to types of food processing (primary/secondary), different modern processing and packaging equipment, impact of different packaging and processing methods on nutrient retention in tomato, and how to improve nutrient retention through appropriate packaging and processing methods.
Other areas included quality assurance, standard operating procedures (SOP), raw materials and finished products specifications, production planning, waste management, pest control, plant layout, workflow, requirements for setting up a processing plant, regulatory requirements and food safety measures for safe production.
The aim is to help participants acquire the requisite knowledge to set up and operate small-medium scale processing/packaging operations in their different communities, while also acquainting them with the nutritional values of tomato, including Vitamins A and C needed for improved immunity, wellness and sustenance.
Meanwhile, PLAN has urged government across all levels to provide access to capital, and the enabling environment for farmers and all participants in the tomato value chain to succeed and as well reduce the nation’s unemployment rate, while contributing to the growth of the economy.