Reducing the moisture content of tomatoes

On August 2017, while making some research on moisture content of fruits, I came across that of tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) and found out that the moisture content of tomatoes contains three types of acid; citric acid which is the most abundant, malic acid and ascorbic acid. I then thought to myself; How can all three acids be present in a fruit ? If the acids are absent or reduced, would the taste when cooked be better than when present?

I decided to carry out an experiment, using ten reddish tomatoes. I divided the ten tomatoes into two sets; A and B, each containing 5 tomatoes The B set was ground manually with a grater and then sieved, whereas A was only ground with a grater (no sieving). Both were used to make a stew and when tasted, I observed that the B set had a sweeter and more suiting taste than that of A. The third day, I observed set A to be darker (reddish black) and B was still brightly red ( though they both underwent heating each days for preservation). The taste of A was also observed to have changed drastically , while that of B maintained its taste. 

After pondering for some days, I encountered an idea which went thus; “WHAT IF THE MOISTURE CONTENT OF TOMATOES BECOMES NATURALLY REDUCED? HOW CAN TOMATOES BE CULTIVATED IN SUCH A WAY THAT DRIED TOMATOES CAN BE HARVESTED? I remembered that , Piper rotunda (fruit pepper, popularly known as  Ata rodo in major areas of Nigeria), via the application of genetic engineering and biotechnology, the gene responsible for the dryness of fruit pepper  when added to tomatoes (after the removal of the gene responsible for the moisture content in tomatoes is removed) will give 80% positive response.

Application of this idea will contribute greatly in terms of developing skills, generating employment, contributing to knowledge, as well as, bringing into existence new variety of tomatoes (next generation of tomatoes).

Beneficiaries of this project are: farmers, restaurant owners, researchers, students and final consumers of tomatoes. 

Being a self motivated individual, I love bringing into existence, non-existing ideas. When I was in high school (junior- second year), I created a battery enabled boat which could move on water by itself without sinking. I took it to school and the pupils were amazed by the invention. It attracted the attention of the senior students who reported the invention to a science teacher and the teacher appreciated it and took it to the science lab to be presented during science club ( Jet club ). In my 3rd year in junior high, I was taught about the periscope under the topic: reflection and refraction. I was taught theoretically that the periscope is a form of viewing device that allows the viewer to see things at different height levels and was amazed of the existence of such a device. I wanted to get hands on one and so created one using the knowledge I gained in class. The periscope I made was kept in the science lab to be used for practical’s. Now the school owns a periscope and no longer relies on theory alone when next the topic is being taught. When I got to my final year in high school (2014), I invented a device which could charge phones and can easily be carried as the size is that of a palm. I though of making such a device popular as it would be beneficial to phone users, but didn’t have the resources. After some months, my friend introduced me to a device which was in circulation, called ‘’power bank’’ which performed the same function as the device I’d already invented. During my third year in university, I decided to carry out an experiment to test if the plant Sanseveria fasciata (Mother in-laws tongue) can be propagated asexually via leaves (usually done by removing the sucker). I believe that plants with thick leaves can be propagated by their leaves, and carried out an experiment. The plant rooted after a week. 

The new, improved variety of tomatoes will be a great hit in the agricultural sector and will contribute to sustainable crop protection, as the diseases ( or pests) that affect tomatoes due to the content of the moisture will be reduced or eliminated.

Odekina Moses Alilu, Nigeria


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