A Nairobi-based international agribusiness firm has released an outdoor hybrid tomato variety resistant to a number of deadly diseases and can fetch at least Sh3 million for farmers per acre.
Johnstone Makau from Amiran Kenya said besides maturing in 75 days after transplanting, Shanty Improved variety can be sold for three weeks without going bad because of its tough skin.
“It does not necessarily require special conditions in a greenhouse to do well. Shanty Improved can give between four and six kilogrammes per plant in one harvest in an open field. It remains in stable for 21 days after harvesting. This means farmers have plenty of time to sell their produce,” he said.
An acre can accommodate up to 10,000 tomato stems. With proper crop management, one can harvest an average of five kilos from one plant, translating to 50,000kg.
According to Soko+, a farm commodity price lists site, a 64kg crate of tomatoes costs Sh4,140 in Nairobi, translating to Sh65 per kilo.
Bu the price varies depending on the region.
A farmer selling their produce at Sh50 per kilo can earn a gross income of Sh2.5 million after disposing the 50,000kg. The earning may even be more when demand is high and with prices shooting to up to Sh120 per kilo.
Multiple disease tolerance
Costs of producing tomatoes pile up on farmers because of the many chemicals applied to mitigate destructive diseases and pests.
Shanty Improved is resistant to tomato yellow leaf curl virus, which is a highly destructive infection common in the tropics.
This virus causes leaf chlorosis, upward cupping, flower dropping, mottling, among other symptoms. An attack on the leaves means stunted growth and reduced or no fruits in severe cases.
Verticulum wilt, tomato spotted wilt, nematodes, bacterial speck and fusarium wilt-race 1,2 are some of the other infection that the hybrid has been engineered to tolerate, Makau said.
Reduced expenses in dealing with these challenges would be profitable to an open field farmer, whose crops are more susceptible to diseases.
Harvesting starts in two and half months after seedling transplanting.
PHOTO: Peter Ondieki, a farm manager at Kisii University, tending the institution's tomatoes in a demonstration greenhouse at the Kisii Showground on July 14, 2016. Amiran Kenya has released an outdoor tomato variety Shanty Improved , that can earn farmers over Sh2.5 million in 75 days after transplanting. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.
Makau can be reached on +254729991871.