POST-HARVEST LOSSES OF TOMATOES (LYCOPERSICON ESCULENTUM) AND HANDLING PRACTICES IN WOTUTU, SOUTH WEST REGION CAMEROON
By: Elive Limunga Linda | Department of Development Studies | Environment and Agriculture
Huge quantity of food is lost each year in the process of getting to the final consumers. This study accurately assessed the extent of post-harvest losses and evaluated the post-harvest handling practices and challenges of tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) farmers in Wotutu village, South West Region of Cameroon. Data for the study was primarily collected using a questionnaire survey, key informant interviews and desktop review of related literature. The data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics with the aid of the Statistical Package for Social Science 20. Firstly, the study found out that most of the farmers used on-farm shade for storing fruit after picking, bamboo woven baskets for packaging and motorbikes for transportation to non-farm gate markets. Secondly, the study indicated that significant (p<0.005) postharvest losses accounts for about 1,458 baskets of tomatoes, representing a total loss on the production of 11.9% per season. These loss represented a total income loss of 3,240,000 FCFA and 8,640,000 FCFA during tomatoes production glut periods and off-seasons respectively. Thirdly, the study found out that the primary causes of post-harvest losses in tomatoes were pest and diseases, poor handling of fruits during harvesting, reduced packaging, poor storage and limited transportation facilities and adverse climatic conditions. Finally, the study found out that the significant challenges to post-harvest loss mitigations and reduction were lack of post-harvest processing technologies and services, inadequate and unreliable transport facilities and networks, limited access to finance and lack of storage facilities. The study concluded that post-harvest loss of tomatoes significantly affected tomatoes production (p<0.005) with severe consequences on farm-dependent household’s incomes and livelihoods in Wotutu village. It is recommended that farmer’s field schools should be established while research and other training initiatives on post-harvest handling and losses prevention of tomatoes should be carried out.
Keywords: Post-harvest loss, loss margins, post-harvest handling, tomatoes