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Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Enhancing tomato value chain competitiveness

Bob Aston
The Tomato Value Chain Workshop, which took place at Sipili Catholic Church Hall, Ol-Moran Ward in Laikipia West Sub County on 30th September and 1st October 2015 looked at ways of enhancing tomato value chain competitiveness to ensure farmers reap maximum benefits.
The convergence of more than 60 farmers enabled discussions on how to share best practices, enhancing farmer’s production skills on tomato and ensuring smallholder farmers play an active role in the value chain.
The farmers watching ALIN Climate Smart Agriculture video
  
The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) through Ng’arua Maarifa Centre organized the workshop in collaboration with Kilimo Biashara Promoters, Syngenta Kenya and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MOALF).

Wangwachi, Marura, Ol-Mutuny, Ndaragwiti, Monica, and Karungubii are main tomato producing areas in the ward due to availability of dams in the areas. Ol-Moran ward produces close to 100 tonnes of tomato per season with around 40 acres under tomato cultivation. Open field or protected environment like greenhouse are the main ways of growing tomatoes.
ALIN and partners organized the workshop in order to address various interventions in Tomato Value Chain that include crop risk mitigation, post-harvest handling, local value addition, linkages to markets, aggregation, and value chain linkages.
Despite its contribution in poverty alleviation, the farmers noted that the industry faces a myriad of constraints along the value chain. The potential to strategize the ways of enhancing its competitiveness in the value chain remains locked and unexploited due to the constraints.
Some of the constraints include water shortage, fluctuating prices, poor road network, unreliable market, pests and diseases, and poor harvesting and post-harvest handling. Addressing the constraints can significantly enhance competitiveness along the value chain.
The workshop addressed strategic interventions like the adoption of greenhouse technologies; appropriate irrigation systems, climate smart agriculture technologies, value addition, good agronomics practices, crop rotation, organic farming, use of SOKO+ for marketing, and promotion of Agro-entrepreneurs as aggregators.
A farmer sharing his experiences
The interventions have the potential of enhancing the performance of other actors along the tomato value chain. Value addition of smallholder farmer’s tomatoes is essential in increasing their productivity, quality, and earnings.
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.
After the two days of engrossing training and deliberations, the workshop ended with set resolutions as the farmers agreed that they will ensure that their soil is analyzed, each farmer to invest in water harvesting, farmers to aggregate their produce to help in marketing, and each farmer to have a minimum of a quarter an acre under tomato production.
The farmers agreed to involve youths in value addition to ensure that they also play an active role in the value chain. The farmers will again meet on November 12, 2015 for a field day on tomato.
ALIN believes that implementing strategic measures of competiveness along the tomato value chain is vital in empowering tomato farmers. The organization is keen in addressing constraints during production, marketing, processing, and consumption.
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