Effect of storage and handling practices on incidence of the soft rot bacterium, Erwinia carotovora in tomatoes, in Kasubi Market Kampala District
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Storage and handling affect the quality of harvested agro-produce. Proper storage and handling can help to manage losses caused due to contamination by micro-organisms which reduce the quality of the produce; this includes tomatoes. It was therefore the purpose of this research to find out the effect that the storage and handling practices of tomatoes in Kasubi market in Kampala district had on the incidence of Erwinia carotovora. Erwinia carotovora is a destructive bacterium to plants and causes soft rot disease (Bhat, 2010). The disease is called soft rot because of the characteristic decay of soft tissue which results in a slimy watery mass (Agrios, 2005).It affects a wide range of plants and in particular, affects vegetable species from all families (Bhat, 2010). It attacks stems, roots and fruits (Ploetz et al., 1993). The research was carried out in Kasubi market, Kampala district. It involved a survey using a questionnaire to find out the storage and handling practices of tomatoes in the market. Laboratory tests were also carried out using Crystal Violet Pectate medium selective for Erwinia carotovora to find out if the bacterium was present in the representative samples obtained from the market (Van der Wolf, 1996). The data obtained showed that soft rot caused by Erwinia carotovora wasn’t the major cause of losses in the market on regard to tomato vending. However, the data obtained showed that it does account for 21% of the losses. 86% of the vendors surveyed stored their tomatoes in boxes that weren’t usually changed and 50% of the vendors sold their produce from areas on the ground which may contain the bacteria (Romberg et al., 2002). The data also showed that 86% of the vendors do not change their means of storage- boxes, and this makes contamination possible when the bacteria are present by acting as a continual source of inoculums. A control experiment was carried out by using the same questionnaire in Shoprite supermarket Lugogo, Kampala district and it was found that they buy from vendors in markets and not solely from farmers. It was also found that these tomatoes can last up to a month. A recommendation for the need of further research was proposed.