Vital Nduwimana hated how many tomatoes he lost every season. For years, his tomatoes started rotting just three or four days after harvest. He felt frustrated.
Mr. Nduwimana explains: “I was not able to sell all my tomatoes; I lost almost half of my production. Worse still, I would sell at a low price in the market. So in 2015, I thought that maybe I should find a tomato conservation technique.”
Mr. Nduwimana grows tomatoes in eastern Burundi, on Kabuyenge hill, five kilometres from the Tanzanian border.
In eastern Burundi, tomatoes are abundant during the harvest months of August and September. But growers find it difficult to keep tomatoes for later sale, which leads to a large number of tomatoes rotting.
Mr. Nduwimana tried several techniques to solve his problem. He tried storing his tomatoes in water, in clay, underground, in cartons, and even in sand. He tried everything that came to his mind—but without success.
Then one day, he noticed that the tomatoes he had kept next to his banana trees were not rotten. Then he noticed the ash at the foot of the banana trees.
He decided to try keeping his tomatoes in ash and found that this was more effective than any of the other techniques he had tried.