The Tomato is believed to be native to the Americas from as early as about 700 A.D.In the 16th century, Europeans were first introduced to tomatoes which were greatly welcomed in Southern Europe. Though the British admired the tomato for its beauty, they believed that it was poisonous because its appearance was similar to that of the wolf peach.
Tomatoes come in a variety of sizes and shapes, from round to oblong, and they also come in a wide range of colors, including green, red, yellow, pink, orange, yellow and multicolored.
Biggest worldwide producers
The largest worldwide producers of tomatoes are China, USA, Turkey, India and Egypt in descending order of production.
Production of tomatoes in Africa
In Africa, Egypt is the largest producer of tomatoes, followed by Nigeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
Tomatoes grow in rich fertile soils especially loam and sandy loam soils except heavy clay. They can be grown from seeds or transplanted as seedlings. Tomatoes need regular watering to grow. They can also be grown in a green house and containers. As they grow, the stems need support for full development.
Within 4 to 5 months, tomatoes will have matured. Harvesting tomatoes can take 3 to 4 weeks as they ripen.
Tomatoes can be intercropped with garlic or basil. They provide shade for basil.
Importance of tomatoes
Tomatoes are usually used to make meat and vegetable sauces and stews. They can also be eaten fresh, dried, in salad, as sauce, in sandwich and grilled.
Tomatoes are rich in minerals like; Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Potassium. They also have a high concentration of lycopene which is a very powerful antioxidant which can help prevent the development of many forms of cancer.
Tomatoes can be preserved by drying, freezing and canning. To freeze them,peeled tomatoes are packed into a jar and placed into the deep freezer.
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