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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Promoting tree tomato value chain in arid areas

Bob Aston
The 1st Tree Tomato Value Chain Workshop, which took place at Sipili Catholic Church Hall, Ol-Moran Ward in Laikipia West Sub County in September 23-24, 2015 agreed on ways of increasing production amongst smallholder farmers in the region.
The convergence of more than 70 farmers enabled discussions on how to share best practices and enhancing farmer’s production skills on Tree tomato. They deliberated on tree tomato record keeping system and marketing of their produce.
Elcy Kigano from MOALF facilitating one of the sessions

The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre organized the workshop in collaboration with Kilimo Biashara Promoters and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MOALF).
ALIN and partners organized the workshop in order to address various interventions in Tree Tomato Value Chain that include crop risk mitigation, post-harvest handling, local value addition, linkages to markets, aggregation, and value chain linkages.
ALIN is keen in promoting the value chain approach as this can promote inclusive economic growth as it allows the identification of specific advantage points along a chain, reducing the average cost per unit by increasing the number of units produced.
The workshop discussed a myriad of issues that included production practices, agribusiness, soil management, marketing, record keeping, Integrated pests and disease management, harvesting and post-harvest management, cost benefit analysis, value addition and SOKO+ sms platform.
At the beginning of the workshop, the farmers had listed challenges that included scarcity of water, pests and diseases, marketing, tree tomato varieties, lack of good agricultural practices, limited capital, climate change and human-wildlife conflict as some of the issues affecting the value chain.
However, at the end of the workshop they had managed to come up with solutions that will enable the value chain not only to benefit many farmers but also to attract youths.
Farmers being taken through tree tomato pests and diseases
After the two days of engrossing training and deliberations, the workshop ended with set resolutions as the farmers agreed that they will each ensure that they have a minimum of a quarter an acre under tree tomato production.
The farmers agreed to involve youths in value addition to ensure that they also play an active role in the value chain.   
Farmers in the area have not been adding value to their produce hence realizing low returns. The farmers will again meet on October 22, 2015 for a field day on tree tomato.
Production of the fast growing Tree tomato or “matunda ya damu” in Kiswahili has been on the increase in Ol-Moran Ward. Most farmers have diversified to fruit farming, as they are able to get better returns.
ALIN has strategically focused its efforts to improve the livelihoods of arid lands communities in East Africa through delivery of practical information using modern technologies. The organization has been organizing various capacity building trainings for Ol-Moran Ward farmers.
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