A new variant of tomatoes named Eva F1 has been introduced into Nigeria courtesy of a collaborative effort between the School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology (SAAT) and the Teaching and Research Farm (TRF) of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State.
The Eva F1 tomato is a variety five to seven times bigger in size than the commonly available ones in the Nigerian market and it is capable of producing paste more than four times the others.
The Dean, School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology, Professor Taiwo Amos, and Farm Manager, Mr Olajide Adedayo, said the seedling was imported from Israel and carefully nurtured in FUTA’s Green House under controlled temperature.
The Head of Protocol and Media of the school, Mr Adegbenro Adebanjo told Daily Trust on Sunday that it all began with the immediate past dean of SAAT, Professor Shadrack Akindele, who saw the product on a working visit to Israel, linked up with Dizengoft Nigeria, and the organisation sold the idea to the university management.
The management bought the idea and gave approval for its cultivation and production through the green house modern farming technique.
The Eva F1 tomato, Adedayo said, has the rare quality of imperishability over a period of two weeks from date of harvest.
Taking Daily Trust on Sunday correspondent round the green house, Adedayo explained that the tomato was an indeterminate hybrid variety with an extended shelf life. According to him, it is a flier generation where two parents were crossed.
He told Daily Trust that the green house or screen house is made in such a situation where it can prevent all environmental factors. It is well netted and rain proof, adding that they water the plants according to their needs, because it has a range of water requirement. The green house, he said, can last for 10 years.
He described the development as the actualisation of part of the mandate and determination of the university to put science to work for the society.
According to him, the Teaching and Research Farm under the watch of the School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology has gone into the farming and production of Tomato Eva F1 variety in the green house using modern farming technique.
He said high crop yield is achieved under a small area of land as a unit of the green house covers 192m2 (8m x 24m)”.
Stating the advantage of its potentials, Adedayo said “with this technology, the tomato crop will be grown and produce round the season. The Eva F1 tomatoes are organically produced and an indeterminate hybrid variety with an extended shelf life, good resistance to cracking with flower setting at high temperatures.”
On the gestation period, he said, “the first harvest of the fruits started after three months of planting and we hope to continue the harvest for the next six months.”
Departments in the School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology such as Agricultural Extension and Communication (AEC) and Food Science Technology (FST) are already involved in a joint research effort through sampling the fruit for analysis and to determine the level of its nutritional content for finished product such as tomato paste, ketchup among others.
So, how the common man on the street will benefit from this, Adedayo said it is an investment worth trying. “You need only small land, small area for big production. It could also be grown round the year and a good source of family income and employment opportunity especially for the youths.”
He urged the government to come in and assist unemployed youths that are interested in agricultural production, put them into clusters and make available to them basic facilities and they are set to go. “It will take them off the streets,” he said, adding that it is a modern farming system devoid of the rigours of farming. It is more like an exercise.
“It can be exported because of the long shelf life. About 1.8 kilo of the product is just about eight or nine tomatoes while the locally produced fruits take over 77 tomatoes to make same 1.8 kilos.”
He stressed that while it is an educational tool, for teaching and learning for them in FUTA, it is also to encourage enterprising students, add to their source of income and also train farmers and other trainees sent to the school periodically to acquire knowledge.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Fuwape, described the successful cultivation and production of the Eva F1 tomatoes as another proof of FUTA’s robust contributions to the development of the country through pursuit of excellence in its area of core mandate.
He called on investors and interested agencies to partner with the university in order to engender massive cultivation of the new variety and stimulate its contributions to the economy.