A two-day workshop has been held on tomato processing and marketing techniques for food processors, restaurateurs, entrepreneurs, and vegetable growers by the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) in collaboration with the Organization of Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) in Accra.
The objective of the workshop was to equip participants to preserve fresh tomatoes by processing them into powder, canned tomato paste, puree, and sauce, to help reduce post-harvest losses and extend the shelf life of the vegetable.
Facilitators took the participants through topics including tomato processing technology, solar drying of tomato, processing tomato powder, bottling and canning of tomato sauce and tomato paste, quality management systems for tomato processing, and contaminants in the tomato value chain.
The participants were also introduced to a newly developed tomato processing technology that preserves fresh tomatoes called BNARI-Hemaa Kese Dryer, a mixed-mode solar dryer developed by a Senior Research Scientist of the Institute, Dr. Mavis Owureku-Asare.
Addressing participants at the workshop, the Director of BNARI, Dr. Michael Osae expressed delight at the turn-up of participants and their eagerness to acquire knowledge. “Indeed, I must say that the workshop was oversubscribed and there is the need to organize another one to share and propagate this knowledge,” he noted.
He urged participants to use the knowledge acquired at the workshop and adopt the technologies to help boost economic activity whiles reducing post-harvest losses incurred in the tomato value chain.
Making her presentation at the workshop, Dr. Mavis Owureku-Asare, the lead project coordinator, led the participants through the tomato processing and solar drying techniques.
She threw light on postharvest management of tomatoes, challenges and solutions available for participants to adopt. “Alternative and convenient domestic processing techniques should be promoted to prevent the high postharvest losses of tomato,” she added.
Dr. Owureku-Asare also discussed other processing methods that were available in processing and the various processed products that could be obtained from tomatoes.
Additionally, she explained that the drying of tomatoes is one of the simple technologies that could help reduce contamination and preserve the vegetable’s quality.
A Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Marketing and Agribusiness at the University of Ghana, Dr. Freda Asem, discussed the marketing goals for such products, strategies to use, factors that affect these strategies and some of the key factors to consider when marketing products.
Other facilitators for the workshop were Dr. Joyce Agyei-Amponsah, Dr. Akwasi Akomeah Agyekum, Mr. Damian Laryea, and Mrs. Adjoa Agah. They presented on the quality management systems for tomato processing, contaminants in the tomato value chain with emphasis on mycotoxins, personal hygiene and sanitation at food processing sites, and canning processes.
The Chief Executive Officer of Altar Foods, Ms. Zally Wembeme, who was one of the participants, said she has been equipped with knowledge in tomato processing, how to develop various tomato products and add value to tomatoes.
She urged Ghanaians in the tomato value chain to take the opportunity of subsequent workshops to help boost their businesses and for the unemployed to also acquire employable skills.