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PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENHANCED ENGAGEMENT IN RESEARCH (PEER)
Cycle 8 (2019 Deadline)


Enhancing postharvest technologies and food safety innovations in fresh tomato value chain

PI: Yasinta Muzanila (muzanila@sua.ac.tz), Sokoine University of Agriculture
U.S. Partner: Yaguang Luo, United States Department of Agriculture/ Agricultural Research Service
Project Dates:  November 2019 - TBD

Project Overview:

8-81 Lab Work
The team analyzes samples in the lab (photo courtesy of Dr. Muzanila).
Although tomato is the dominant vegetable crop produced in Tanzania, it exhibits amongst the highest postharvest losses in the horticulture sector, ranging between 30% and 60%. Various initiatives have shown limited success and no marked effect on postharvest loss reduction in Tanzania. Most of these initiatives are based on a single component of postharvest loss solutions. While past studies suggest the use of a holistic model for postharvest loss reduction, the impact of this model has not been tested in the tomato value chain. By working with partners across the public and private sectors, this PEER project model integrates the building of local capacities through innovative training; the uptake of innovative, small-scale, appropriate postharvest technologies; and research into intersectoral collaboration. The goal of the study is to contribute to improving the productivity of smallholder farmers and reducing postharvest losses through capacity building and uptake of innovative postharvest technologies. The key activities of the project include (1) assessing farmers’ knowledge and behavior regarding postharvest technologies in the tomato value chain; (2) developing a postharvest technology plan in the tomato supply chain; (3) evaluating food safety improvements and quality changes of the postharvest technology plan; and (4) providing training on suitable postharvest handling practices.

The project will leverage the resources and technical support of the U.S. partner Dr. Luo in developing cost-effective postharvest technologies and sanitizers to ensure the quality and microbial safety of tomato. Dr. Luo will participate in the preparation of tailor-made food safety extension materials for capacity building to farmers, extension staffs, and postharvest handlers. The project will integrate its activities into the mainstream of the Tanzania Horticultural Association and local government authorities to operate most efficiently. The project beneficiaries are smallholder farmers, including women and youth, who will be specifically targeted for participation. It is expected that by the end of the project at least 150 smallholder farmers and traders will try out new or improved postharvest handling practices to ensure produce safety, quality, and quantity.

Summary of Recent Activities

Activities in the reporting period ending March 2022 were aimed at enhancing the capacity of local smallholder farmers, traders, and other agricultural actors involved in the tomato value chain. The capacity building activities carried out in the tomato farming community focused on tested, innovative, gender-based postharvest technologies and practices to reach a wider farming base. These activities were addressed to 25 participants, including smallholder farmers, distributors, packers, traders, and other local stakeholders through a participatory workshop event. During the training session in December 2021, there was a clear demand for more organized on-farm demonstrations from smallholder farmers. The project team therefore organized a series of on-farm demonstrations at their innovation demonstration farm that brought a range of stakeholders together in the context of collaborative relationships and opportunities for interaction and sharing of knowledge within the domain of postharvest losses and technologies. A wide variety of postharvest handling demonstrations focusing on their postharvest technology plan were set up at the demonstration farm to reach 67 participants.

The PI reports that activities to promote exploitation of gender-based postharvest technologies and practices were tackled to ensure their usability by a broad number of end-users and stakeholders beyond the life of the project, and their transformation into significant improvements of knowledge and wealth of local tomato farming community. A radio program was created on the Sokoine University of Agriculture radio station SUA-FM with the focus on key questions related to gender-based postharvest technologies and practices. Key messages were oriented to the horticultural farming community, scientists, and government and other stakeholders involved in the tomato value chain. In the next few months, the project results will be presented and discussed during the Sokoine Memorial conferences held by Sokoine University of Agriculture, during which the policy paper resulting from this project will be shared. The activities should maximize the impact of the project results considering the participation of high-level policy makers, including ministers and other politicians. Among the tasks that will be undertaken in the next six months include, but are not limited to, providing a set of communication and dissemination activities to sustain long-lasting visibility of the project, and collaborating with other partners and consortium with similar interests and the capacity to help disseminate the project results.


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