In Nigeria, packaging of fresh fruits and vegetables especially tomatoes is mostly done using traditional woven baskets from palm fronds. There is a belief that the introduction of reusable plastic crates (RPC) may take away the source of livelihood of basket makers and sellers who are majorly domiciled in the southeastern zone of Nigeria. The study assessed the potential socio-economic impact of replacing baskets with plastic crates for fresh tomato transportation on the livelihoods of basket makers in southeast Nigeria. Primary data were collected using structured questionnaires.
Overall, 430 basket makers were drawn from 16 basket production villages in Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi and Enugu states of the southeast. The perceived impacts of replacing baskets with RPCs were joblessness, increased poverty, crime and prostitution, rural urban drift and a dwindling economy. It is thus recommended that plastic crate introduction should be gradual and systematic and basket makers should be properly sensitized and informed. Government and non- governmental organizations should assist basket makers in mitigating the potential impact of replacing baskets with RPCs.