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Tuesday, January 14


"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad"-Miles Kington
A beautiful day for tomatoes
Well into the second month of the Dry Season, Saint Lucia experiences unusual daily rains and cooler temperatures. It is particularly disturbing to have rain intermittently throughout the day. And the chill, the terrible chill! But thankfully today is a better day- The sun is shining uninterrupted. A relative is harvesting tomatoes (local nametanmadòz)Sunny conditions are best for him, as it saves him the additional process of wiping each tomato dry. Moisture on harvested tomatoes increases post-harvest losses. Each minute and every ounce of energy is valuable to accomplish the day's work.
Towards the end of last year purchasers and consumers lamented the lack of tomatoes on the market. In fact, tomato production has declined in recent times. The greatest challenge to tomato production remains the usual suspects-white flies. On the bright side, I am proud that the farmers of my community have met that challenge. An extension officer had remarked at the healthy condition of the tomato plants observed.Today that hard work is paying off. This farmer has an order of 10 crates to fulfill to a supermarket chain and another order for the Castries market vendors. The present buying price for tomatoes at the commercial purchaser is $3.00/lb. Prices to vendors at the local market are negotiable.
I walk to the neighbouring farm site, in the hopes of taking some good photos. It is not only a good day for tomatoes but a good day for photos too. Soon enough, I found myself assisting- "Many hands make light work". 
The tomatoes are picked in buckets and then carried to the shade of a mango tree to be sorted and packed into the crates for transport to the purchaser.


The two most significant causes of fruit loss observed were:

  1. Hungry birds: The young farming community has devised a noisemaker of old cans and rope to scare away the birds. Large bags are also affixed to the top of poles planted in the fields.The fluttering sounds and movement in the wind are employed to drive the birds away. These methods reduce extent to which the crop will be affected by hungry birds.
    The casualties
  2. Blossom-end rot: The plant, like the human body requires nutrients to for growth and productivity. A calcium deficiency in tomatoes manifests itself in dark blotches on the bottom end of the fruit. As the circular patch increases in size, the area becomes soft and sunken and therefore renders the fruit unmarketable. 
    Tomato troubles
It was a successful day with fifteen crates of tomatoes harvested. Remember the farmer, when next you will wisely be using this fruit in your vegetable salad.

We needed 10 and finished with 15! Phew!