CSIR-CRI appeals for funding for studies into snake tomatoes breeding

Snake tomatoes

The Crops Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has appealed to the government and other private organisations to support in further studies into prospects of the snake tomato plant in Ghana.

The snake tomato plant (Trichosanthes cucumerina) is a gourd vegetable that grows in tropical regions, and it is used for culinary and medicinal purposes.

It is a member of the cucumber family and is called by many names in different parts of the world.

The snake tomato is packed with phytonutrients.

Dr. Michael Kwabena Osei, a Senior Research Scientist and a Vegetable Breeder at the CRI, speaking with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) after a field inspection of the trial plot at Kwadaso near Kumasi, underscored the need for agencies and the government to support the research into the plant.

He explained that Ghana could consume the vegetable as a substitute for the traditional tomato, adding that it had almost the same constituents as tomato.

“If we should wake up one day and find out that the tomatoes in the country are not able to survive, and we do not have other substitutes, it is going to be a problem.

“That is why as a Research Institute we go ahead and research and diversify the crops we research on,” he told the GNA.

The Research Scientist said in the last two years the Institute obtained one line from Amanchia in the Ashanti Region to commence the study.

It later sought 30 different lines from the World Vegetable Center and now characterizing them to see which ones could be evaluated, going forward.

This crop, According to Dr. Osei, did not require too much attention as given to tomato, however it took up to four weeks to get matured (from planting to maturity), thrived under sunshine and required little water to produce more.

Other characteristics are that it can either be harvested in the green stage or ripened stage.

In terms of the nutritional and medicinal values, the snake tomato is low in calories, high fiber content, contains vitamins A, B and C, laxative properties, lower blood cholesterol, aid digestion as well as treating constipation.

Dr Osei indicated that in countries like Nigeria, it was mostly used in preparing stews and soups, whereas in Ghana here, the underutilized crop is being patronized by foreigners on the open markets at higher prices.

He submitted that when the needed funding was made available, it would enable the CSIR-CRI to extend the research to the different agro-ecological zones to determine how the crop performs in other parts of the country.

Currently, studies are underway to assess poisonous substances, check biochemical, brix, and other fruit qualities.

The results will inform research scientists during release and make the necessary data available to plant growers.

Source: GNA

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