A Nairobi-based international agribusiness firm has released a hybrid tomato variety resistant to a number of deadly diseases and can fetch at least Sh3 million for farmers in one harvesting per acre.
Shanty Improved variety, developed by Amiran Kenya, is an outdoor hybrid which has an extended shelf-life of up to three weeks after harvesting because of its tough skin.
Johnstone Makau from Amiran says the variety gives impressive yields while saving farmers high cost of production incurred in pesticides and disease eradication.
Doing the mathematics
“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 condition for 21 days after harvesting. This means farmers can access farm markets with this produce,” he said.
An acre can accommodate up to 10,000 tomato bushes. With proper crop management, one can harvest an average of five kilos from one plant, translating to 50,000kg.
The cost of tomatoes in the country has been rising, hitting an average of Sh99 per kilo in Nairobi. During normal supply, one kilo retails at between Sh50 and Sh60.
Selling 50,000kg at Sh60 per kilo earns Sh3 million.
High demand for tomatoes in Mombasa with a kilo fetching Sh130
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 chlorisis, 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 or resist, Makau said.
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Reduced expenses in dealing with these challenges would be profitable to an open field farmer, whose crops are more susceptible to diseases.
A farmer will start harvesting in two and half months after seedling transplanting.
Makau can be reached on +254729991871.