AAUA researchers launches ‘Akungba Tomato’
By Bukola Olamona
A team of researchers from Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State has commenced research towards producing a variety of tomato that will ‘grow faster, yield higher, and be resistant to rot and disease’ than the variety grown in the Northern part of the country.
The research named ‘Akungba Tomato’, is coordinated by the University’s Centre for Research Development (CRD). It is aimed at producing a tomato variety that will be suitable to the local soil and still contain a higher percentage of the qualities of the preferred northern variety.
These were disclosed by the Director of the Centre, Prof. Olanrewaju Olotuah in a chat with the Information Unit of the University.
When completed, seeds of the tomato will be distributed to local farmers at no cost, while other needed extension services and assistance would also be provided freely in order to encourage its wide cultivation.
The effort, he said, is in line with the university’s pledge to prioritise researches that will benefit its immediate environment in particular and the nation in general.
Prof. Olotuah noted that it is disheartening that what used to be the local variety of tomatoes grown widely across Ondo State and in the South-West, has been abandoned in favour of the northern variety because of the belief that the local variety tends to go sour and rots earlier than the northern variety.
“What we are working on will be of immense benefit to local farmers. We hope to come up with a tomato variety that will ultimately be preferred to the northern variety. We hope to make what we are working on to be better disease-resistant, yield higher, grow faster, and be cheaper to produce and thus cheaper in the market.
“We have noted the complaints of people that the local variety that was once grown widely across the state rots easier and tends to go sour earlier. All these we will address by the time we are through with what we are working on.
“And as a proof that we are serious and confident of the outcome, we will distribute its seeds free of charge to local farmers and monitor things while hoping that it becomes the preferred tomatoes grown and consumed locally.
“We are looking into making our variety contain less amount of water or sap so as to prevent it from rotting early. Its skin could also be thicker so its shelf life could be longer,” he said.
Prof. Olotuah expressed optimism that the ‘Akungba Tomato’ would reduce the dependence of people of the state on the northern variety of tomatoes. He said the research team comprises nutritionists, plant scientists, soil scientists, and other experts from various fields all coming together to make it a success.