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Traders’ Perceptions and Acceptability on Use of Linings for Improving Tomato Packaging in Wooden Crates

In Tanzania, tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L) postharvest losses are high due to perishability, lack of awareness and knowledge of postharvest handling techniques, and use of poor packaging materials. Reduction of the current high postharvest losses of tomato can contribute to ensuring food security and improving livelihoods of smallholder producers. Wooden crates serve as a major means of packaging material for transporting tomatoes in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa, including Tanzania. Wooden crates are tightly packed without being properly secured. Crates are often constructed from poor quality timber with rough interiors, resulting in bruising damage to tomatoes during transport. An assessment of how traders perceive postharvest handling practices with wooden crates combined with lining material and how tomato quality losses are affected was carried out in March–April 2014. Use of wooden crates with brown paper lining was more cost-effective at wholesaler and retailer levels. Wholesalers were willing to adopt wooden crates with brown paper lining provided that the net benefits are positive. Wholesalers were overly concerned that retailers would not buy wooden crates with paper lining because they can not visually appraise and evaluate produce through sides of crates for their marketing decisions. This may not necessarily be the case because most retailers buy tomatoes in packed plastic basins. There is a knowledge gap between wholesalers and retailers on acceptance of appropriate packaging materials. Proposed interventions that tend to maximize net benefits of the supply chain actors could reduce postharvest losses and make produce more available and affordable to consumers.

About Srini Rajendran