Studies Into The Biology And Pathology Of Post-harvest Microfungi On Tomatoes In Kenya
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The tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill) is one of the most important vegetables in major parts of the world, ranking second in importance only to potatoes, Solanum tuberosum L. Commercially, 45 million metric tons of tomatoes are produced each year from 2.2 million hectares, but only 15 percent of the output occurs in the tropics. Various groups of scientists who have attempted to set priorities for vegetable crops in the tropical countries consistently have ranked tomatoes for increased production and more intensive research (Reuben, 1980; Purseglove, 1977). The potential for tomatoes in the tropics is great. More widespread cultivation of tomatoes could generate rural employment, stimulate urban employment, expand exports, improve nutritional standards, and increase income to farmers. Tomato fruits are eaten raw or cooked. Large quantities of the fruits are used to produce soups, juices, sauces, ketchups and pastes which are sources of essential nutrients and improvesfood value purseglove, 1977). Apart from being used as a vegetable in the tropics, most countries export fresh or processed tomatoes, hence earning them the much needed foreign exchange. Tomatoes show a wide climatic tolerance and hence are grown in all districts of Kenya. They are grown throughout the year in the wetter regions of the highlands and during the rainy season or under irrigation in the drier areas. Several varieties are grown, and "Money Maker" is the most popular fresh Market variety (Ministry of Agriculture, Horticultural Handbook, 1976). In the tropics, postharvest losses of perishable agricultural products is greatest. Therefore, there have been considerable attempts and efforts to conserve this produce, to ensure maintenance of quality and to enhance longevity in transit, storage and marketing. This constitutes an important aspect of research in Applied Mycology in different parts of the world. Like several other agricultural products, tomato fruits are delicate, easily damaged and hence are susceptible to infection by fungal microorganisms during harvest, transit and storage, bringing about considerable loss in quantity and quality (Coursey and Booth, 1972, Kamat et al 1977). In order to prevent such }asses, it is necessary to have an understanding of the fungal microorganisms responsible, their distribution and relative importance as rot causing agents. The extent of damage inflicted by the microorganisms vary from place to place, country to country, continent to continent and in the world at large. Their destructive action depends on agroclimatic conditions, the produce, methods of harvesting, transport and storage. Reports and references to the danger of fungi as storage pathogens of tomatoes were first made in East Africa about four decades ago (Wallace, 1944; Wallace and Wallace, 1945 and Nattrass, 1950). Since then, work done on fungal pathogens of tomato has been confined to the field pathogens. Nattrass (1961) and Ondieki (1973) have given a list of fungal pathogens of tomatoes in Kenya. Among these, Phythopthora infestans (Mont) de Bary and Altenaria solani Soraner have been reported as storage pathogens (Ministry of Agriculture, Horticultural Handbook, 1976).......