The Director-General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Professor Samuel Dampare, has advocated increased processing of fresh tomatoes into powder, paste, and other products.
That, he said, would ensure an all-year-round availability of the vegetable and avoid the occasional glut which is usually followed by long periods of scarcity and price fluctuations.
He said the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (NARD) has developed diverse technology
for tomato processing and was willing to share the expertise with firms and individuals.
Prof. Dampare was speaking at the opening of a virtual tomato processing and marketing training organized by BNARI in collaboration with the Organization of Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) and other partners.
The two-day workshop, which ended yesterday, aimed to build the capacity of its participants comprising food processors, hoteliers, and restaurateurs on how to make and market tomato products.
It was the second edition of the training, introduced last year to provide an opportunity for interested individuals to acquire employable skills to enable them to earn a living.
Participants from Ghana and beyond were introduced to tomato processing techniques for tomato paste, ketchup, tomato pure, and jollof sauce, including the Ewiahemaa Solar Dryer – solar-drying technology.
Prof. Dampare said food preservation and processing were ways to retain the quality of food for prolonged periods as well as preserve color, taste, and nutritional value.
And then in recent times, food processing has become more and more important in the food industry, as consumers expect to be able to purchase some even when out of season.
With tomato consumed in large volumes and production exceeding 187 million tones in 2020, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, he said there was a need to prevent it.
“Finding easy and convenient ways to process tomatoes into valuable products is critical to making it available all year round. The work of scientists is very crucial in this regard and also to the overall development of any country. We at GAEC and in this instance, working through BNARI would want to help address this”, he said.
A Senior Research Scientist and Head of Radiation Technology Centre at BNARI, Dr. Mavis Owureku-Asare, who invented the Ewiahemaa Solar Dryer said the technology helps reduce post-harvest losses, generates additional income, and provides a hygienic drying technology for tomatoes.
“It also prevents product contamination from specks of dust, birds, and livestock, and extends the shelf life of tomatoes. Other food products such as vegetables, roots, and tubers can also
be dried using this dryer, “she added.
Dr Owureku-Asare thanked Impact Food Hub, Ghana Incentive-based Risk-sharing System for Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL) and Stanbic Investments Management Services for supporting BNARI to train participants.