2nd International Conference on Santorini Cherry Tomato
The 2nd Santorini Cherry Tomato International Conference was successfully held in the famous greek island Santorini on 9-11 June 2005.
High-level announcements were presented, which gave answers to many questions that were raised in the previous conference of the series, which was held, three years ago, in Santorini. A great number of scientists and researchers attended the conference, mainly from Greece, and also from Spain, Italy and Israel.
During the opening session, titles of honor were awarded to 14 farmers of Santorini fïr their contribution to the agricultural development of the island. People from the wide community of Santorini were also awarded. Particularly, Heliotopos Group awarded the Manager of the Petros M. Nomikos Conference Center, Mr Nikos Valvis, for his contribution to institution of Santorini as a conference destination. The Society for the Promotion of Studies on Prehistoric Thera awarded the maintainer of the Acrotiri Excavations - for many years - Mr. Tasos Margaritof, for his dedication and consistence with which he fulfilled his project.
Professor Maria Babatzimopoulou opened the Conference on Thursday evening, the 9th of June 2005, with the presentation “functional foods”, including definitions from a variety of international organizations, and emphasizing health benefits of functional foods, and especially of tomato and tomato products, which are functional foods.
On the next day, Dr. Cherubino Leonardi reviewed the cultivation of cherry tomato in Italy, its present status and perspectives, mentioning that 40% of fresh tomatoes consumed in Italy belong to the cherry type, and that the particular climatic conditions of Sicily and the high salinity of irrigation water contribute to a higher qualitative product. Dr. Rami Golan mentioned that in Israel cherry tomato is cultivated in three locations of the Negev Desert in the south, while irrigation water is piped from Galilee sea in the north. The total yield of 2003-2004 was 40.000 tons, 11.000 out of them were exported to Europe and America. The water used for irrigation is also slightly brackish.
Mr. Markos Kafouros traced the history of processing Santorini tomatoes, starting from the end of the 19th century, when tomato was known as golden apple, a literal translation of the Italian pommodoro. Dr. Antonio Javier Matas presented the implied factors for cherry tomato fruit cracking and proposed possible solutions to applying in pre- and post-harvest. Professor Christos Olympios detailed the maximization of cherry tomato production through suitable pruning methods and optimum plant population. Mrs. Iphigenia Mellidou compared the fruit composition and metabolism of small-fruited tomato cultivars from Santorini, Chios and Limnos with the cultivar Aisla Craig, and found significant differences between the native cultivars, as well as between native cultivars and “Ailsa Craig”.
Dr. Ekaterini Traka-Mavrona outlined the whole breeding program, that is applied in N.AG.RE.F., aiming to exploit available genetic diversity of Santorini small-fruited tomatoes and produce propagating material. According to the research, Santorini tomatoes are represented by 2-3 different cultivars of large phylogenetic distance, which were well adapted by an evolutionary process in the isolated volcanic island. Dr. Ekaterini Hondroyianni gave a detailed account of the process for registration of tomato varieties in the National and European Union Catalogues, and also for protection of plant variety rights.
Dr. Costas Economakis described the influence of the substrate volume and the addition of zeolite in perlite and pumice substrates in a hydroponic cultivation sytem of tomatoes. Dr. Constantinos Hartzoulakis detailed the results of a study on the response of greenhouse tomatoes as affected by salt stress (common salt) and potassium supplement. Professor George Katsaros presented two relatively new methods used to inactivate pectinolytic enzymes and improve preserving of tomato products: (a) the high hydrostatic pressure, and (b) the osmodehydrofreezing. Dr. Apostolos Avgelis closed the session, with a description of the viruses found in the cherry tomato populations of Santorini. He conclusively noticed the significance of selecting advantageous genetic material of indigenous Santorini tomatoes.
Professor Athanasios Economou opened the Saturday, June 11th, session, with a presentation on some alternative crops for supplementing the income of Cycladic islanders, with emphasis on aromatic/medicinal plants, and dried flowers used for decorative purposes. Mr. Vasilis Varelas detailed some of the problems encountered in the cultivation of cherry tomatoes in Santorini, in relation to E.C. agricultural policy, E.C. programs, and the scientific and technological developments in the agricultural field. Mrs. Maria Nomikou detailed the market, the products and the prospects of processed cherry tomatoes. Dr. Paraskevas Tokouzbalidis closed the second session by examining the role of lycopene of tomatoes, pointing out the efficiency of this powerful antioxidant in the prevention of prostate and other cancers, as well as of cardiovascular diseases, and the fact that lycopene, as a fat-soluble compound, is better absorbed when tomatoes are consumed with olive oil rather than any other seed oil.
The presentations were followed by a roundtable discussion on traditional products, local gastronomy and tourism, which was coordinated by Mr. Giorgos Hatziyiannakis, and with the participation of Angeliki Georgantopoulou, Mathaios Dimopoulos, Denny Kallivoka, Christos Markozannes, Aggelos Aggelopoulos and Kostas Konstantinidis.
Three posters were set up for the information of the Conference participants. “Tomato viruses and the Santorini cherry tomato”, by Dr. Apostolos Avgelis, “Cherry tomato fruit cracking: Implications of relative humidity and harvest handling”, by Dr. Gloria Lopez-Casado, and “The cultivation of tomato on a substrate of perlite and pumice of differential grain size", by Dr. Kostas Economakis.
One of the parallel events of the conference was the culinary competition for the best ‘tomatokefte’, in which many ladies of Santorini took part. The competition was carried out at the D. Nomikos’ old factory of tomato paste in Vlychada.
The next conference of the series will be held in Santorini on June 2008.