Kenya: Local grower collective finds greenhouse tomato success

Mandera is a vast county neighbouring Somalia to the East and Ethiopia to the North. The men of the county, especially in Banisa constituency, understand the beauty of keeping bees and growing fruits and tomatoes. And they do it in groups.

Sharif Sheikh Dahir of Golbo Omachu Farmers Association, a group of ten men engaged in fruits and vegetable farming, says they have been farming bananas, oranges, guavas, onions, watermelons, tomatoes, lemons and sweet potatoes since 2013.

“We have been growing tomatoes in the greenhouse since 2014 supplying all markets in Mandera County,” says Dahir, noting the structure cost them Sh250,000 [2,475 USD].

Charles Kyalo, a sub county agriculture officer in Banisa, singles out F1 hybrid tomato seed as the best since it survives the harsh conditions in Mandera. “The best variety of tomatoes to be planted here is Tilka-F1 that is resistant to harsh conditions and needs little water and has a longer shelf-life,” Kyalo reveals.

The farmers get the seeds from Nairobi at a cost of Sh4,000 [40 USD] for a sachet of 1,000 seeds,” says Dahir, adding they make profits of up to Sh170,000 a season from their various groups. The group sells a bucket of tomatoes weighing 10kg at Sh1,000 [10 USD] at the local markets.

“Good spacing in greenhouse production is a necessity for high yields in any farming of this kind,” says Kyalo. He adds a well-spaced greenhouse allows easy weeding, spraying against insects and harvesting.

Read more at the Daily Nation (Manase Otsialo)

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