Despite being one of the most challenging ventures, Kenyan tomato grower Nicholas Munene makes handsome returns from horticulture farming, where many farmers have failed due to high level of post-harvest losses.
Munene, who has surmounted all the challenges that come with this type of farming, rakes in Sh40,000 (€352) in a week from his half an acre farm of tomatoes in the county of Kirinyaga.
Kirinyaga County, which is largest producer of commercial tomatoes with an estimated 25 percent share of the produce in Kenya, incurs post-harvest losses of up to 55 percent on tomatoes alone.
Munene says the secret to all this is getting proper training on horticulture farming to enable farmers understand how to handle their crop and cut on post-harvest losses: “What a lot of farmers lack is basics on growing, handling and marketing of delicate crops such as tomatoes. Once they get these fundamentals right, they will forever embrace horticulture.”
From his current crop on the farm, Munene harvests five times a week where he gets 10 trays and with a single tray selling at the current market price of Sh4,000 (€35.18).
This means that the farmer makes a cool Sh160,000 a month. He can harvest for up to three months from the time the crop matures, depending on the variety that he planted.
Munene is one of the farmers who benefited from the Korea Africa Food and Agricultural corporation initiative (KAFACI) project, which is being conducted in 15 African countries to help farmers address the challenges of post-harvest losses in horticulture.