Packed and ready to go: Good quality packaging and handling boosts income from tomato sales

| March 29, 2020

Download this story

Two of this week’s Farmer stories highlight parts of the value chain for tomatoes: production and transportation. This week’s Script of the week deals with other post-harvest steps: packaging and handling.

Growing vegetables like tomatoes can be a lucrative business. Vegetables contain vitamins and minerals at a much higher level than staple foods like grains. But vegetables are perishable and easily damaged. Up to 40% of tomatoes packed in common wood crates can be damaged and must be discarded or sold at a lower price.

Vegetables must be carefully handled and packed. To market good quality vegetables, it is necessary to pack them in good quality containers that protect them from damage and deterioration during storage and transportation.

Packaging should immobilize its contents and provide protection from impact and from extreme weather. It should also make vegetables easier to handle and transport, be easy to clean, and look attractive. All this will improve farmers’ selling price. Better quality produce means more income at the market.

This drama shows how using good quality containers such as small plastic crates, and using liners for crates, can reduce bruising and other damages. It outlines best practices for sorting, handling, hygiene, and packaging so farmers can make the most from their fresh produce.

You could present this drama as part of your regular farmer program by using voice actors to represent the speakers. You could also use this script as research material, or use it to produce your own script on the best ways to package perishable produce in your country.

Talk to farmers and experts who grow and market vegetables and fruits. You might ask them:

• How can farmers decrease the damage from harvesting and transportation?
• What kinds of packaging are available in your area? What is the best way to transport your produce to reduce damage?
• What creative solutions have farmers and experts found for these problems?