Tomato farmers and consumers are set to benefit from steady tomato supply to the markets with the introduction of a new variety that can do well throughout the year and which is also tolerant to common tomato diseases.
Zara F1 from Amiran Kenya does well when it is dry as well as when the rain is in excess.
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Too much rainfall predisposes tomatoes to diseases while dry seasons require irrigation and pests are more prevalent.
The variety is tolerant to bacteria wilt, fusarium wilt, ToMV, TYLCV, among others.
On dry seasons, farmers who cannot afford irrigation sink into losses while consumers pay more for the produce as it remains scarce.
During the November 2016 to March 2017 drought, three tomatoes that usually cost Sh10 rose and hit between Sh30 and Sh50 in Nairobi.A 64kg crate rose from an average of Sh3,500 to Sh7,000 depending on the town.
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Wilting of tomatoes does not have chemical remedy. Only integrated pest management is one of the best ways of eliminating the micro-orgasms when done well.
Dianah Orinda, Amiran Seeds Agronomist, says that depending on the weather conditions a farmer can start harvesting within 75 to 80 days after transplanting.
Averagely, the new variety can give up to 25 to 30 tonnes per acre under good agronomic practices.
With an average of six to eight fruits per cluster, harvesting can go on for up to 10 weeks after flowering.
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According to Amiran’s Marketing Communications manager, Flora Nanjala, 10 grams ZARA F1 seeds is currently retailing at Sh2772, 25g and 50g cost Sh6925 and Sh13850 respectively. The company have even the smaller packages of five grams for Sh1383 each.
It has a tough skin, which gives it a shelf-life of more than 10 days after ripening. It is also easy in transporting, therefore, losses are minimum.
The fruits are between 110g to 130g, which makes it marketable.