The Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) has organised the maiden virtual workshop on tomato processing and marketing to equip agricpreneurs, food processors, hoteliers, as well as health-conscious individuals on how to make and market tomato products.
The two-day workshop, organised in collaboration with the Organisation of Women in Sciences for the Developing World (OWSD), brought together skilled experts from the tomato industry to provide participants with hands-on training in processing and marketing.
Senior Research Scientist and Head of Radiation Technology Centre at BNARI, Dr. Mavis Owureku-Asante, said the purpose of the training is to provide participants with the opportunity to learn employable skills that will allow them to earn a living and improve their living standards.
She indicated that the institution, as part of its goal to effectively contribute to the improvement of the country’s agricultural sector, has developed a new tomato processing technology, a mixed-mode solar dryer called the BNARI-Hemaa Kese, to modernise Ghana’s tomato industry.
The solar drying technology will help Ghanaian farmers, as well as food processors and individuals to preserve fresh tomatoes by processing them into dried tomato powder which can be made into value-added products – such as canned.
“The purpose of this training is to transfer skills and knowledge to people who want to learn how to make a living out of tomato processing. As a research institute, we have developed new technologies to help harness the gains from the sector.
“We have heard a lot about the quality of foods that come into the country, particularly tomato products, and most of them are heavily adulterated. The tomato sector sometimes makes losses way up to 50 percent in the tomato value chain.
“So coming up with these technologies, we felt that it was very important to transfer the technologies because it is all about enhancing the tomato sector, reducing the losses and helping people to develop a culture for processing tomato locally,” she said.
She further stated that participants will be provided with after-training services.
“What is even unique about the training is that we are going to provide these participants with support services after the training. We have a platform where we provide advisory services for participants who produce the products and are ready for the market.
“Others who need other help – like certifying their products with the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), as well as the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) – we will walk them through the process,” she said.
About the training
The virtual tomato training session was organised to provide interested individuals from around the continent with the opportunity to participate.
Participants were given an overview of tomato processing technology, solar drying of tomatoes, processing tomato powder, bottling and canning of Jollof sauce, tomato paste, quality management systems for tomato processing marketing, and contamination in the tomato value chain.
Participants will receive a recognised certificates from the institute at the end of the two-day session.
Resource persons for the training included Dr. Owureku-Asate, Dr. Joyce Agyei-amponsah, Dr. Freda Asem, Dr. Daniel Ofosu, Dr. Kwestako Agyekum, and Ms. Adjoa Agah.
The two-day online workshop was supported by the Ghana CARES, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Stanbic Investment Management Services, GIRSAL Next Computers, IMPACT Foodhub and the Organisation of Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD).