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RICE STRAW AS STORAGE MEDIUM IN THE MMSU TOMATO

STORAGE TECHNOLOGY
Maura Luisa S. Gabriel, Marissa I. Atis, Aleta E. Dumaoal
and Zenaida H. Esteban

ABSTRACT

Tomato is highly perishable and exhibit short storage life. However, with
proper storage technology, the shelf life of the fruits can be prolonged. Tomatoes are
cheap during the month of March because of the high supply available in the market.
Hence, farmers should store their produce to regulate the supply of fruit and wait for a
better price.

Rice straw has been found effective as storage medium for tomatoes. The
incorporation of rice straw with tomatoes inside the storage container resulted in
lower percentage rotting and maintained the quality of fruits. The container could be
paper box or plastic sack which should be placed in elevated area with good
ventilation.

The length of storing tomato is critical in determing the profitability. The


longer the fruits in storage, an increase in the percentage rotten fruits was observed.
It is profitable to store tomatoes for two months but not beyond 67 days. Even with
the increase in price, losses were observed because most of the fruits were rotten.

All the components of the MMSU tomato storage technology must be


followed by the adoptors to get high fruit recovery that will result in higher profit.

____________________________________________________________________
Key words: storage, rice straw, container, paper box, plastic sack

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RICE STRAW AS STORAGE MEDIUM IN THE MMSU TOMATO
STORAGE TECHNOLOGY
Maura Luisa S. Gabriel, Marissa I. Atis, Aleta E. Dumaoal
and Zenaida H. Esteban

RATIONALE

Tomato is one of the most important and one of the most cultivated vegetables
worldwide. With the many uses and nutritional value of tomato, it is an indispensable
ingredient in man’s diet. It is very important for most Ilocanos because it is one of the
main ingredients of their favorite dish ‘pinakbet’.

Production of tomato in the Philippines covers an area of 17,700 hectares


producing about 199,000 MT with an average of 10.10 MT per hectare (BAS 2010). The
province of Ilocos Norte is one of the major producers of tomato in the country. In 2009,
it ranks third in terms of its contribution (11.7%) to the total volume of production (BAS,
2010).

Ilocos Norte farmers usually plant tomatoes during the months of December to
January, and the peak of harvest is observed in March. The price is usually low when
there is high supply of agricultural products. This is true for tomatoes. Market glut is
usually observed during the month of March when the price of tomato ranges from
P3.00- P5.00 per kilo while the price escalates to as much as P60-P80 per kilo when the
supply is scarce. It is during this time that some farmers store their produce to wait for a
better price. Storage of commodities can be profitable when the quality of the product
can be maintained for a long period of time.

Many have tried storing tomatoes but only few were successful. Refrigerated
storage is so far the best method, but this is very costly. There are other practices that can
be done to prolong the postharvest life of tomatoes at ambient temperatures like hanging
(Tome and Bautista, 1997; Gabriel et al. 2001); Modified atmosphere storage (Esguerra
and Bautista, 1982; Torres M, 1998); using ash (Garcia and Bautista, 1982; Garcia ES,
1989); rice hull (Felipe CM, 2004); coco coir dust (Mariottt et al. 1974), and modified
atmosphere storage with coco coir dust (Masilungan, et al, 2009 in
http://mb.com.ph/articles/225764/scientists-develop-a-practical-way-storing-fresh-
tomato).

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Rice straw is a biological waste after separating the grains from the plant. It is
abundant and available in the locality. Rice straw is high in silica and cellulose
(http://animalfeedscience.com/article/SO377-8401(06)00050-2/abstract). It is used as
organic fertilizer (Dobermann and Fairhurst, 2002)

Tomato is highly perishable and exhibit short storage life. However, storing
tomatoes is already a practice of farmers in the Ilocos. This was documented through a
survey conducted by MMSU researchers in 2011 and 2012. Several studies have been
done to improve the storage practices of Ilocano farmers. Studies have been focused on
how to decrease rotting and maintain the quality of fruits and eventually increase profit
hence, this report.

OBJECTIVES
General:
a. To develop an improved storage technology for tomato
Specific:
a. To identify appropriate media for incorporation in storing tomato fruits
b. To identify the appropriate container for tomato storage
c. To determine the optimum length of storing tomatoes profitably
d. To assess the adoption performance of farmers in storing tomato

METHODOLOGY

Several studies have been done to develop a technology for storing tomatoes.
Newly harvested green mature tomato fruits (Ilocos Red variety), was used in all the
studies. The amount of tomato fruits used per treatment was 10 kilos. The plants were
not irrigated one to two weeks prior to harvesting. Harvesting was done early in the
morning.

Comparison of saw dust and rice straw as medium in storage

The saw dust used was collected from nearby saw mill while the rice straw was
taken from newly harvested rice plants. Rice straw was sun dried for three days prior to
use. The following treatments were used:

T1 – Paper box
T2 – Paper box with sawdust

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The tomato fruits were embedded in sawdust inside a paper box. A layer of
tomato fruits was placed, then covered with 2 cm thick sawdust; another layer of
fruits were again placed, until all 10kg fruits were accommodated in the
container, then sealed.

T3 – Paper box with rice straw


Tomato fruits were placed inside a paper box lined with 2cm rice straw. A
layer of tomato fruits was placed followed by a layer of rice straw until all 10kg
fruits were accommodated in the container, then sealed.

Evaluation of different containers with the incorporation of rice straw

T1 – Paper box alone


T2 – Paper box with rice straw
T3 – Bamboo basket alone
T4 – Bamboo basket with rice straw
T5 – Plastic sack alone
T6 – Plastic sack with rice straw

The rice straw used in the experiment was collected from freshly threshed palay
and sun dried for three days prior to use. Thickness of rice straw was 2-3cm,
approximately 0.2kg per container. After packing the fruits, the containers were sealed.
All the treatments were placed under ambient temperature which ranged from 26.00C to
34.00C; daily reading of the relative humidity ranged from 64.0% to 88.3%. The
experiment was laid out using Completely Randomized Design with three replications.
After two months in storage, the containers were opened and the stored tomatoes were
evaluated.

Optimum length of storing tomatoes using rice straw as medium


T1 – 15 days
T2 – 30 days
T3 – 45 days
T4 – 60 days
T5 – 67days
T6 – 75days
T7 – 82 days
T8 – 90 days

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The experiment was laid out using Completely Randomized Design with three
replications. Packed tomatoes were placed under ambient temperature which ranged
from 29.1 – 32.50C and relative humidity which ranged from 57-73%. The containers
were sealed and stored accordingly.

Data gathering
Data gathered were percent weight loss, rotting, and shriveling. Regular price
monitoring of tomato was done at the Batac Public market.

Adoption of the storage technology

Conduct of seminar
The storage technology was introduced to the farmers and other interested
individuals through a seminar. Farmers who were already practicing tomato storage and
other interested individuals were invited to attend the seminar on the improved tomato
storage technology in Quiling Sur, City of Batac. Results of studies conducted at
Mariano Marcos State University were discussed to them.

Tomato storage by the adoptors


There were 5 adoptors of the technology, three farmers and two speculators.
Farmers harvested their tomatoes in the month of March. Prior to harvesting, the farm
was abstained from irrigation. The speculators bought their tomato fruits for storage.
Initial weight and number of tomatoes were recorded. The adoptors were given free way
to choose the container for storage but they need to incorporate rice straw. Each of the
farmer-adoptors and the speculators placed their packed tomatoes in an area available to
them.

Data gathering

The quality of tomato fruits were assessed after the fruits were stored for two
months. However, the adoptors have sold their tomatoes as soon as the prevailing price
can provide them reasonable gain. Proper recording was done.

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RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Comparison of saw dust and rice straw as storage media

The incorporation of rice straw as storage medium for tomato resulted in


significantly lower percentage rotting (3.75%) compared to sawdust (39.59%) (Table 1).
The high percentage of rotting in sawdust was brought about by the high moisture
content of the storage medium. On the other hand, rice straw as a storage medium served
as cushion, not allowing the fruits to touch each other. As the fruits respire, heat is
generated and water is also a product. The high porosity of rice straw absorbs the
moisture produced and the presence of rice straw prevented the build up of heat. This
condition is contributory to the slower deterioration, lower rotting percentage and better
quality of fruits. Temperature, moisture, gases and the pesence of microorganisms are the
factors that affect the shelf life of a perishable commodity (Bautista and Esguerra, 2007).
A low temperature slows down the metabolic activity slowing down the deterioration
process. On the other hand, the paper box where the tomato was stored could have
modified the atmosphere in the immediate environment of tomatoes by lowering the
amount of oxygen and increasing the amount of carbon dioxide. This condition slows
down also the metabolism of the commodity (Artes and Bautista, 2007). The lower
moisture also inhibits the multiplcation of microorganisms.

Table 1. Rotten, marketable fruits, and weight loss of tomato fruits as affected by rice
straw and sawdust as storage media after two months of storage.
STORAGE ROTTEN MARKETABLE
METHOD FRUITS (%) FRUITS (%)
Paper box with 39.59a 21.63c
sawdust
Paper box with rice 3.75c 69.96a
straw
Paper box 31.88ab 42.51ab
Significance ** **
CV (%) 43.7 22.7
Means marked with the same letter in a column are not significantly different using LSD.
** - significant at 1% level

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Evaluation of different containers for storage with the incorporation of rice straw

The commonly used storage containers were bamboo baskets, sacks and paper
boxes were used in storing tomatoes with the incorporaton of rice straw. Results show
that rotten fruits were significantly higher in container without the incorporation of rice
straw (Table 2). Tomatoes stored in paper box had 35.24% rotten fruits compared to
6.39% when rice hay was incorporated. Using bamboo basket as container, 34.71% of the
tomatoes were rotten while 16.25% rotten fruits were observed with the incorporation of
rice hay. The same trend was observed in plastic sack as container. Although lower
percentage of rotten fruits (14.78%) were obtained from the sack when used as container,
a decrease (5.10%) was still observed when rice straw in between the tomato fruits
provided aeration which probably controlled the build up of temperature inside the
container.
Significantly higher percent weight loss was observed in tomatoes stored in paper
box (49.97%), bamboo basket (44.43%) and plastic sack (35.56%) compared to those with
the incorporation of rice hay which ranged from 25.66-22.08% using paper box, bamboo
basket and plastic sack as containers. The weight loss observed in the different treatments
is proportional with the degree of rotting. The higher the number of rotten fruits
contributed to the higher weight loss. On the contrary, the percent marketable fruits is
inversely proportional with the percent weight loss and percent rotten fruits. Among the
treatments, significantly higher percent marketable fruits was observed from those stored
in bamboo basket with the incorporation of rice hay (77.92%) but comparable with
plastic sack with rice hay (77.11%) and paper box with rice hay (74.34%). Lower
percentage of marketable fruits was observed in tomato fruits stored in plastic sack,
bamboo basket and paper box which ranged from 50.03 to 64.44%.

The general appearance, fruit color and juiciness of the stored tomato fruits were
considered in determining the quality of the fruits. Among the treatments, fruits stored
in paper box with rice hay had the best quality, the percentage shriveled fruits was
lowest, more juicy and the color was rosy pink and shiny, hence, the visual quality
rating (VQR) is 8 (field fresh). On the other hand, tomato fruits stored in plastic sack
and bamboo basket with rice hay had red color, less juicy compared to those in paper
box with rice hay. The visual quality rating of tomatoes fruits stored in plastic sack and
bamboo basket with or without rice straw, including those in paper box alone generally
were with minor defects (VQR6-7).

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Table 2. Rotten, shriveled and marketable fruits, and weight loss and the visual quality
rating of tomato fruits stored for two months using different containers with the
incorporation of rice straw
ROTTEN SHRIVELED MARKET- VISUAL
WEIGHT
CONTAINER FRUITS FRUITS ABLE QUALITY
(%) LOSS (%)
(%) FRUITS (%) RATING
Paper box alone 38.24a 2.57 49.97a 50.03c 7
Paper box with rice 6.39c 1.04 25.66bc 74.34ab 8
straw
Bamboo basket alone 34.71ab 2.77 44.43ab 55.57bc 6
Bamboo basket with 16.25bc 6.04 22.08c 77.92a 7
rice straw
Plastic sack alone 14.78bc 7.78 35.56abc 64.44abc 7
Plastic sack with rice 5.10c 6.14 22.89c 77.11a 7
straw
Significance * ns * * -
CV (%) 56.6 68.8 33.1 33.1 -
Means marked with the same letter in a column are not significantly different using LSD.

ns – not significant * - significant at 5% level

Visual Quality Rating-


9,8- excellent, field fresh 3- poor, defects serious, limit of salability
7,6- defects minor 2- limit of edibility
5,4- fair, defects moderate 1-Non-edible

Optimum length of storing tomatoes with rice straw as storage medium


Rotten fruits
Percentage of rotten fruits was significantly affected by the different storage
duration (Table 3). Tomatoes stored for 15 and 30 days had no rotten fruits (0 %),
however, they did not significantly differ with tomatoes stored for 45 and 60 days (1.67
and 6.80%, respectively). At 67 days of storage, significantly higher percentage of rotten
fruits was already observed (25.73%); abrupt increase of rotten fruits was noted in fruits
stored for 75 days (74.34%). Eventually, almost all the fruits stored were rotten at 82 and
90 days in storage (91.03 and 98.77%).

Rotting is a very important factor to consider in the evaluation of the profitability


of storage techniques. The data on the percentage of rotten fruits reveals that there in an
increasing trend of rotting as the duration of storing tomatoes is prolonged. Two months
or 60 days of storage provided a 6.8% rotten fruits, which is considered minimal. Further
increase in the length of storage by a week or 7 days had resulted in the increase of
percent rotten fruits by almost three times.

The fast rate of deterioration of the stored food after 60 days might be due to the
depletion of food reserves due to respiration. Without respiration and the metabolic

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energy it supplies the produce, the build up of compounds necessary for maintaining the
organization of the cells stops, tissues finally breakdown, and deterioration sets in
(Baustista and Esguerra, 2007).

Marketable fruits

Data on marketable fruits was segregated into good quality and shriveled fruits.
The price of shriveled fruits was lower in the computation of ROI as compared to good
quality fruits.

Good quality. Significantly higher percentage of good quality fruits was observed
when tomatoes were stored at 15, 30, 45 and 60 days (100, 100, 92.34 and 85.50%,
respectively). Significantly lower quality fruits were obtained when stored for 67 days
(58.98%), as compared to those stored for shorter duration. Further increase in the length
of storage resulted in the detrioration of fruits.

Shriveled. Shriveling is due to the loss of moisture from the commodity. There
were no shriveled fruits accounted for tomato fruits at 15 and 30 days in storage. This
could be due to the minimal percent in weight loss (2.33% and 5.83%, respectively)
(Table 1).

Weight loss

Significantly lower weight loss (%) was observed in tomato fruits stored for 15
days (2.33%) but comparable with those stored for 30 and 45 days, which were 5.83%
and 13.00%, respectively. A significant increase in weight loss was noted at 60 and 75
days which were 31.33 and 40.33%, respectively. These were followed by fruits stored for
75 days (78.67%), and the highest loss incurred (94.17 and 98.90%) were obtained from
fruits stored for 82 and 90 days. The very high weight loss obtained from 60 to 90 days of
storage can be accounted by the rotten fruits.

With a minimal weight loss observed at 15 and 30 days of storage, a very high
percent recovery can be obtained (97.67 and 94.17%, respectively). There was a reverse
trend in the observed percentages of rotten fruits and weight loss against percent
recovery; higher rotten fruits and weight loss resulted to lower recovery.

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Visual quality rating

The quality of fruits stored for 15 and 30 days remained excellent and field fresh
(VQR of 9 and 8). On the other hand, storing the fruits for 45 and 60 days resulted in
minor defects, which was observed as minimal degree of shriveling (VQR 7). Allowing
another week in storage (67 days) has resulted to a further lowering in the quality of the
fruits (VQR 5). The fruits had serious defects and limit of salability at 75 and eventually
fruits were not edible at 82 and 90 days in storage (VQR 1). The optimum length of
storage using the improved storage technology, was 15 to 60 days based on quality,
however, 67 days in storage could still be considered profitable especially when there is
already an increase in price.

Table 3. Rotten fruits, marketable fruits, weight loss, percent recovery and visual quality
of tomato fruits at different length of storage.
LENGTH MARKETABLE FRUITS (%) RECO- VISUAL
OF ROTTEN WEIGHT
VERY QUALITY
STORAGE FRUITS (%) Good Shriveled LOSS (%)
(%) RATING
(days) Quality
15 0.00d 100.00a 0c 2.33d 97.67 9
30 0.00d 100.00a 0c 5.83d 94.17 8,9
45 1.67d 92.34a 5.99b 13.00d 87.00 7
60 6.80d 85.50a 7.71b 31.33c 68.67 7
67 25.73c 58.98b 15.29a 40.33c 59.67 5
75 74.34b 17.34cd 8.32b 78.67b 21.33 3
82 91.03a 0.00d 8.97b 94.17a 5.83 1
90 98.77a 0.00d 1.23c 98.90a 1.10 1
Significance ** ** ** ** - -
CV (%) 12.1 7.7 57.1 12.2 - -
Means marked with the same letter in a column are not significantly different using LSD.

** - significant at 1% level

VQR rating-
9,8- excellent, field fresh
7,6- defects minor
5,4- fair, defects moderate
3- poor, defects serious, limit of salability
2- limit of edibility
1- Non-edible

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Cost and return analysis
Profitability in storing 1000 kg tomatoes at different length or duration can be
shown in the cost and return analysis (Table 4). Highest RAVC (8,230) was computed
when tomatoes stored for 30 days are sold. This could be attributed to the increase of
price, lower weight loss and better quality. There was a decrease in the value of RAVC in
tomatoes stored for 45 days (P2,780) because of the decrease in the price. Fluctuating
prices affects the RAVC. When the price could have remained at P15.00 per kilo during
45 days of storing, RAVC could have been P7,120. At 60 days of storage, RAVC was
P6,145, and P6,040 at 67 days. Although lower percentage recovery was obtained due to
higher percentage rotting, this was compensated by the increase in price. Loss can be
observed already if the fruits are stored beyond 67 days due to high percentage of rotting.
A very important factor in the success of storing business, aside from the storage
technique, is the fluctuation of price. This dictates the decision of the farmer to sell the
product. Decision to sell starts from 30 days up to 67 days, depending on the price;
proper length of storage, however, is 30-60 days.

Table 4. Cost and return analysis in storing one (1) ton of tomato fruits in different length of
storage
LENGTH OF STORAGE (days)
ITEM
15 30 45 60 67 75 82 90
Cost of 1.0 ton tomato
fruits @P5/kg 5,000 5,000 5,000 5,000 5,000 5,000 5,000 5,000

Packaging material,
300 300 300 300 300 300 300 300
paper box
Rice straw (cost of
200 200 200 200 200 200 200 200
hauling)
Labor 400 400 400 400 400 400 400 400
Sub-total 5,900 5,900 5,900 5,900 5,900 5,900 5,900 5,900
% Recovery 97.7 94.2 86.8 80.3 59.7 21.3 5.8 1.1
Weight of tomato
977 942 868 803 597 213 58 11
fruits left (kg)
Actual market price 10 15 10 15 20 25 25 25
Gross Income (Php) 9,770 14,130 8,680 12,045 11,940 5,325 1,450 275
RAVC (Php) 3,870 8,230 2,780 6,145 6,040 -575 -4,450 -5,625
Increase of price by
15 22.5 15 22.5 30 37.5 37.5 37.5
50%
RAVC (Php) 8,755 15,295 7,120 12,167 12,010 2,087 -3,725 -5488
Decrease of price by
5 7.5 5 7.5 10 12.5 12.5 12.5
50%
RAVC (Php) -1015 1165 -1560 122 70 -3238 -5175 -5762

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Adoption of the storage technology

The MMSU Tomato Storage Technology have the following components which
are: variety, fruit maturity, packaging material, use of rice straw, selection of fruits, place
of storage and length of storage. Table 5 shows that three among the adoptors did not
follow the recommended place of storage. The tomatoes packed in sacks were stored in
an area that was cemented with galvanized roofing, the place was not elevated and
without ventilation. The effect can be seen in the higher rotting percentage which ranged
from 20.62% - 40.51% (Table 6). Proper ventilation in the storage area is critical becase
this will regulate the temperature. High temperature will result in faster metabolism and
faster multiplication of disease- causing microorganisms resulting to high percentage of
decay.
The adoptors that followed the MMSU storage technology obtained higher
percentage recovery with only 12-15% rotting observed and higher profit (Table 7). This
is with the assumption that they will store their tomatoes for two months. On the
contrary, some of them started selling their fruits when there was already increase in the
market price.

Table 5. Adoption of the farmers and speculators to the disseminated tomato storage
technology
ADOPTORS/
TECHNOLOGY Farmer 1 Farmer 2 Farmer 3 Speculator 1 Speculator 2
COMPONENT
Variety     
Fruit Maturity    - -
Selection of fruits     
Containers     
Use of rice straw     
Place of storage x x x  
Length of storage     
 - adopted
x - did not adopt

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Table 6. Rotten fruits and total marketable fruits comprising of unshriveled and shriveled
fruits percentages observed after two months of storage
TOTAL MARKETABLE FRUITS
ROTTEN
ADOPTORS
FRUITS (%) GOOD QUALITY SHRIVELED FRUITS
FRUITS (%) (%)
Farmer 1 20.62 86.52 13.48
Farmer 2 40.51 59.15 40.85
Farmer 3 26.19 82.03 17.97
Speculator 1 12.44 89.60 10.40
Speculator 2 15.00 84.80 18.20

Table 7. Cost and return analysis in storing tomato by the adoptors.

FARMER FARMER FARMER SPECULATOR SPECULATOR


ITEM
1 2 3 1 2
Cost (Php)
50,000 4,000 2,500 1,350 5,000
P5/kg
Volume of stored 10,000 800 500 270 1,000
tomatoes (kg)
Container ** P7x P7x80pcs= 7x50pcs= 7x27pcs= 5x100pcs=
1000pcs= 560 350 189 500
7,000
Rice straw 300 24 15 8 30
Labor (P7.56 per 7,560 605 378 204 756
container)
Sub-total (Php) 64,860 5,189 3,243 1,751 6286
No. of kilos left 6,437 360 265 242 875
after 2 months
Gross Income 128,740 7,200 5,300 4,840 17,500
(Php); Fruits sold at
P20/kg
Net Return (Php) 63,880 2,011 2,057 3,089 11,214
ROI (%) 99 39 63 176 178
Note:
**- Volume of tomatoes packed per container is 10 kg

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MMSU Tomato Storage Technology

Variety. Ilocos Red

Harvesting. Harvest only green mature to breaker stage of maturity, preferably harvesting
should be done in the morning. The field should have not been irrigated for
1-2 weeks.

Selection of fruits. Select fruits free from insect damage and bruises.

Containers. Use containers such as paper box and plastic sack; after packing the fruits,
these must be sealed, tying the plastic sack and closing the paper box.

Use of rice straw. Store tomatoes in containers with dried rice straw collected from freshly
harvested rice. Rice straw (2-3cm thick) is placed in between layers of
tomatoes.

Place of storage. Elevated area using bamboo rack or papag. Store packed tomatoes in a
shaded area with good ventilation. Sacks can be hanged also.

Length of storage. Maximum storage is two months; beyond this, very high rotting
percentage is obtained.

CONCLUSION

Based from the experiments that were conducted, MMSU has developed a
storage technology for tomato that is effective, profitable and adoptable.

The best medium identified for incorporation with tomato for storage is rice
straw. The incorporation of rice straw provided aeration, cushion, and absorbed
moisture which resulted in lower percentage rotting of fruits. Rice straw is abundant in
the locality.

Paper box and plastic sack can be used as containers. The size should
accommodate 10 kilos of fruit. If sack is used, this can be hanged or laid in horizontal
position in an elevated area with good ventilation.

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The optimum length of storing tomatoes profitably is 15- 60 days depending on
the prevailing market price. Storage length can be further prolonged to 67 days and still
profitable if price is increased. Storage beyond this period is no longer profitable because
of the deterioration of the fruits.

The adoptors of the technology who followed all the components obtained high
profit. Those that did not follow particularly the place of storage had experienced higher
percentage rotting which affected their profit.

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