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The use of plastic crates in the packaging of tomatoes has been identified as a good step with good prospect in achieving food safety. Food Safety Management System could be adopted through some simple addiional safe or good agricultural practices. One of this practices is the use of plastic baskets for the packaging of fresh produce such as pepper and tomatoes which ensures hygiene to a very good extent. The popular Mile 12 market was visited in this regard to witness the demonstration of this economic value.
A tomatoes dealer from Kaduna had loaded 92 plastic crates of tomatoes going to Mile12 market. The purpose of the visit was to witness the off-loading of tomatoes; to validate the quality of the tomatoes as at the time of arrival; and to collect evidence for Monitoring and Evaluation. The truck carrying the tomatoes from Kaduna arrived Mile 12 on the 13th of August, 2014 and was off loaded a day after. The team witnessed the off-loading of the tomatoes in crates from a J5 van. The tomatoes in crates were very much in good shape clean and well sorted as of the time of offloading. There were four young men on ground to help with the offloading, each carrying 2 plastic crates on each trip to the point of sale from where the van is packed. There were few squashed tomatoes as at the time of this visit.
There was an increased demand for quality tomatoes. Buyers are beginning to appreciate value additions, as they were willing to pay higher price for a premium produce. A Tomatoes Supplier, Isiaka Mudidat in Lagos with branches at Lagos Mainland and Island, explains that due to the fact her buyers insist on good quality tomatoes, she ensures that she buys quality no matter the price. We over-heard a telephone conversation where a buyer is asked to make sure that she buys tomatoes in crates instead of those in raffia baskets.
Another buyer, Mrs Margaret, said while she prefers tomatoes in crates is the way the plastic crates stack on each other without touching the produce; this she said prevents squashing of tomatoes, which constitutes greater cause of tomatoes loss. We witnessed infrastructural development, as the market is undergoing expansion. This can be seen as a direct attribution to GEMS4 haven interacted with the Mile 12 market association over the last two years. Improving the physical market infrastructure is one of the things that has been pointed out to the market union and eventually actualised in the pepper section. GEMS4 was invited to witness the activities as proof of adherence to advise given over time.
There was a dialogue with leaders of Yoruba Fresh Vegetables dealers regarding Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and demo was presented to them by a dealer from Kaduna and some Master Trainers.
From observation point of view, a good number of Tomatoes sellers in Mile 12 are now carrying out sorting, grading and washing before selling their tomatoes.
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