Many greenhouse farmers will agree that tomatoes give the best returns because of the market availability, both local and international, and the duration in which one can harvest. Underneath the potentially good returns, the work involved in tomato farming in a greenhouse is not easy. A couple of lessons learnt from my first season of this type of farming are explained below.
- Proper preparation beats mitigation. Water availability, soil tests and dependable agronomist and farm manager are essentials in order to optimize the returns in tomato farming. My farm is in South Nyanza and Western region of Kenya is prone to bacterial wilt, hence soil tests before planting tomatoes is vital to avoid the disease that to date has no cure.
- Indigenous knowledge. Many farmers prefer to follow the books to the latter while doing farming but the truth is some knowledge is not applicable in some areas and experiences of farming. It is important to learn from people practicing the same kind of farming in your area.
- Security is key. Protecting your hard work is a no-brainer just like in any other type of business. Not everyone may be happy with the progress you are making. Varying from petty thieves to saboteurs, you should protect your farm, perhaps even employing a security guard because it is like any other business.
- Priority should be the local market. During harvesting, many farmers tend to look for the best market price to sell their produce. As a local, small to medium scale farmer, you should not overlook the local market regardless of the market price. More often than not, the good market price is far from your location hence the margin is always negated by the transport costs and other risks. It is also good to create a rapport with the local market players to have a foothold for future farming ventures.
- Timing. As a greenhouse farmer, you have an advantage of growing tomatoes anytime of the year as opposed to the open field farmers who have to adhere to the seasons. It is prudent therefore to time your planting so that by the time you harvest, there will be shortage thus good market prices. This is a good way to optimize returns of your production.
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