The TPO and academia tackle postharvest losses
Researchers should ensure investigation outcomes are implementable and clearly show the benefits of such projects to tomato growersî. This was emphasized by Mr. Cobus Vorster, representing the TPO, while addressing a strategic planning meeting, in Pietermaritzburg for a project involving the University of Pretoria (UP), University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and Bertie van Zyl (Edms) Bpk (ZZ2TM). The project, funded by the TPO, is investigating the impact of current transportation routes on tomato quality in the supply chain, as well as the development of integrated postharvest treatments and handling to mitigate losses and extend fresh tomato shelf-life.
The research project led by Prof. Tilahun Workneh, from the discipline of Bioresources Engineering at UKZN, focuses on assessing the impact of transport conditions on the shelf-life of fresh market tomatoes. The shelf-life of tomatoes delivered from three farms in Limpopo to Pietermaritzburg is evaluated based on the measurement of a range of tomato quality attributes during storage at UKZN under cold (11°C) and ambient conditions.
Prof. Wynand Steyn and Lientjie Pretorius, from the department of Civil Engineering at UP, spearheading the road/transport conditions evaluation, highlighted the importance of understanding the interaction between road riding quality and vehicle speed to avoid physical injury in transported tomatoes. Prof. Workneh and the team from UKZN described the observed influence of transport route and packaging material on tomato shelf-life, underlining the importance of effective cooling and disinfection of tomatoes after harvest to secure long shelf-life.