HISTORY AND ORIGIN OF TOMATO
The word “tomato” comes from the Spanish tomate. It first appeared in print in 1595. A member of the deadly nightshade family, tomatoes were erroneously thought to be poisonous (although the leaves are) by Europeans who were suspicious of their bright, shiny fruit. It is edible, often red fruit/berry of the nightshade Solanum lycopersicum L. commonly known as tomato plant.
The tomato is native to western South America and Central America, is one of the world’s most widely grown and processed vegetable crop (Thompson and Kelly, 1957). The species originated in the South America Andes and its use as food originated in Mexico, and spread throughout the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas. It was first domesticated in Mexico and Cater and introduce to the Europe by Spanish in 1531. Its many varieties are now widely grown, sometimes in greenhouses in cooler climates. Tomato is consumed in diverse ways, including raw, as an ingredient in many dishes, sauces, salads and drinks. It is botanically a fruit. It is considered a vegetable for culinary purpose but one exception is that tomatoes are treated as a fruit in home canning practices: they are acidic enough to process in a water bath rather than a pressure cooker as vegetable require. This dispute of tomato as vegetable and fruit has led to legal speculation in the United States. In 1887, U.S. tariff laws that imposed a duty on vegetables, but not on fruits, caused the tomato’s status to become a matter of legal importance. United states supreme court settled this controversy on 10thof May 1893 by declaring that the tomato is a vegetable based on the popular definition that classifies vegetables by use, that are generally served with dinner and not dessert [Nix v. Hedden(149 U.S. 304)] .
The world dedicated 4.8million hectares in 2012 for tomato cultivation and the total production was about 161.8million tonnes and the average world farm yield for tomato was 33.6 tonnes per hectare in 2012 (FAOSTAT 2012). According to FAOSTAT, the top three producers of tomatoes (in tonnes) in 2012 are China, India and United States. China, the largest producer, accounted for about quarter of the global output, followed by India and the United States. For one variety, plum or processing tomatoes, California account for 90% of U.S. production and 35% of the world production (Hartz, etal.; 2012).
Villareal (1978) reported that tomato production being a labour intensive programme requires about 42,000 man-hours for one hectare production as compare to 24,000 man-hours estimated for growing on hectare of rice in Nigeria. Consequently a large-scale tomato production can bring about rapid socio-economic transformation particular in the rural economy (Nkiru Omeregie etal.; 2005). In Benue state, tomato production is limited to wet season with attendant shortage and high price during the dry season. The low production is attributed to high night and day temperatures which have a detrimental effect on tomato growth and fruits set and result in poor pollen formation and flower abortion leading to poor fruit yield. Irrigation is practise along rivers coast during dry season.