By Nicholas Osei Wusu
A new variety of tomato known as ‘Snake Tomato’ entirely different in nature from the conventional tomato could soon be on the Ghanaian market. The crop, if eventually approved by the National Varietal Release and Registration Committee, could rival the known tomato breeds already on the local market.
Correspondent Nicholas Osei-Wusu reports that initial research has shown that the vegetable, aside from the known Vitamin ‘A’ nutrient present in any other tomato, is also endowed with Vitamin ‘C’ and several other nutritional qualities and could also be eaten in its green state as is the case of cucumber.
A Research Scientist with the Crops Research Institute, CRI, of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Dr. Michael Kwabena Osei has been researching this variety for about a year now.
This creeping plant, which is yet to be assigned a generally acceptable local name officially as part of the research activities, is commonly found in Nigeria. The study by the CRI Research Scientist is to, among other objectives, confirm the many initially found nutritional and health values, the suitable climatic and agronomic conditions required for its cultivation in Ghana.
The Research will also involve sensory activities encompassing its use for soup and stew preparation. During a visit to the research field at the Kwadaso Agric Research station near Kumasi, the Breeder, Dr. Michael Kwabena Osei demonstrated that the crop could as well be eaten while green.
“It could be eaten raw and it tastes just like cucumber when it is green”, Dr. Osei told GBC News.
The study into this crop has almost gone through a full planting cycle from planting to ripening during which period it was also found out that pests could attack it when it is getting rotten.
Unlike the conventional tomatoes that turn from green to red, the ‘Snake tomato’ rather turns yellowish with relatively bigger seeds when ripe.
The unofficial name of the plant, ‘Snake Tomato’, is not the officially given identity but it is derived from its elongated and curvaceous nature making it look physically like a snake.
However, a more acceptable name will be adopted later for local acceptance since the interim identity instills fear among especially women.
Dr. Kwabena Osei told GBC News that initial findings from the study suggest that the ‘Snake Tomato’ requires a lot of sunshine, takes about 16 weeks to mature and could replace the known tomato varieties available on the Ghanaian market due to the many different nutritional and health qualities it possesses.
“It has more nutritional and health benefits. It could help in bone development”, the Research Scientist asserted.
Dr. Kwabena Osei noted that for now, the major challenge undermining the research into the ‘Snake Tomato’ is funding.
He gave the assurance that, with funding support, the new tomato variety could come in handy for homes and restaurants in Ghana.