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Uganda: Greenhouse tomato growers root for market

Ugandan greenhouse tomato farmers have vowed to ‘chase’ foreign tomatoes out of supermarkets in the country soon. At the moment, leading supermarket chains like Uchumi, Nakumatt and Shoprite sell tomatoes from Kenya and South Africa. Charles Byanyima, who currently produces at least 250kg of tomatoes every week, says if all greenhouse tomato growers united, they would have the potential to take over the local market. A survey across major supermarkets shows that most of them are selling imported tomatoes and other vegetables.

Byanyima said local farmers have the potential to supply supermarkets with tomatoes. He was speaking at a demonstration study organised by Balton Uganda at Byanyima’s home in Lweza, near Kajjansi. Byanyima produces the tomatoes in a 15×8 greenhouse which he bought from Balton. “All we have to do is to maintain the quantity and quality of the tomatoes,” said Byanyima. Greenhouse tomatoes are of a better quality than ordinary ones because they are grown in a controlled environment. Supermarkets prefer greenhouse tomatoes because of their high quality and ability to stay longer on the shelf. “These tomatoes can stay on the shelf for at least 21 days,” Byanyima says. At the moment, a kilo of tomatoes goes for at least sh 2,000 in most city supermarkets.

Byanyima said that when he approached some of the leading supermarkets, he was told farmers should be able to supply at least 1,000 kg per week. “All that we have to do is come together and we shall have that capacity,” Byanyima said. Balton Uganda is promoting a greenhouse farmers’ kit to boost the growing of high quality tomatoes by Ugandans. According to the managing director, Zeev Shiff, the kit is simple to adopt by farmers across the country. “The majority of Ugandans are farmers and the kit was developed to help them modernise their farming,” he said. Greenhouse farming does not depend on weather, hence the ability to produce throughout the year.

Source: New Vision

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