Response of physical properties of tomatoes to handling and environmental factors in post harvest processes
Tomatoes production has witnessed huge growth over the years resulting from its economic, nutritional and health importance. Despite rapid progress in technology, handling, environmental factors and storage of tomato fruits are currently major problems experienced in postharvest practices. This study assessed responses of physical properties of tomatoes to handling and environmental factors in postharvest processes for sustenance of post- harvest quality and marketability in Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State,Nigeria . To this end, a survey of population comprising of all tomato marketers in Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State was made with a sample of 100 respondents randomly selected from the list of tomato marketers. Four research questions guided the study. Data was collected using a 20-item questionnaire and analyzed using frequency count and mean scores. The result revealed grand mean scores of 2.86, 3.3, 2.9 and 2.7 developed with respect to: tomatoes holding material, handling method, environmental factor and storage effect. This shows that marketers of tomatoes currently use traditional method for both holding and handling as well as for storage with the resultant effects on physical characteristics of surface bruises and compression, heat accumulation, rapid water loss, loss of weight, change in appearance, shape and reduction in size and firmness. This signifies that the current methods exposes the product to avoidable injuries that leads to losses. Awareness need to be created and improved devices made available and affordable to ensure sustainable post- harvest practices that enhances the quality of tomatoes and prolong its shelf life.
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