Tomatoes are bought on a daily basis in every household. Be it for sauces or salad, you can never go wrong with this most sort after vegetable.
Kenya is blessed with fertile soils and farming tomatoes can make you an overnight million dollars richer.
What you need:
» Come up with a budget. You don’t want to start something that will give you heartaches of where to get the extra cash. This however should not worry you seeing that there are micro lenders like Amica Bank who can chip in once you are stuck. They have very flexible loan repayment terms.
» A small piece of land like 20 by 30 or go large with an acre or more.
Farming tomatoes is as easy as A,B,C. With lots of barren land and the new generation of land for lease, you can start this lucrative business.
Scout for land of your budget or talk to any ofypuur relatives for a small piece to lease.
» Look for best tomato varieties to grow in your area. This here is the start to your journey to richness. Almost every tomato variety available in the country can be grown anywhere in Kenya and give you awesome crop harvest.
Have you been wondering on where to get seedlings now that the rain are on. Relax, here is the solution. The following varieties offer very good quality Tomatoes seedlings:
Zara F1– This one has a higher maturity intake. It matures in 3-4 weeks and in good market days and holidays of January, April, October to December can fetch you Ksh 3,500 per crate. Awesome, right? It also does well all over the country.
Safa– This is another variety that has the potential to bring you really really good returns. And doesn’t need too much space to grow it. It takes slightly above 4 weeks to reach maturity.
Terminator– The name tells it all. It has a higher yeald as compared to Zara F1. The down side of it is that it takes 4-6 weeks to maturity. The wait is absolutely worth it given by its high maturity levels.
Ansal F1– A sure bet if you want quick results. Ansal F1 has a higher maturity rate and after seedling transplant, it takes 2-3 weeks to reach maturity and per crate on the above mentioned peak season can go for upto Ksh 2,500 and during the off pick season, it still fetches good cash of slightly above Ksh 1,000 per crate.
» Nursery bed. For your seedlings, measure your preffered spacing and saw the seeds. Seedlings take less than a week to sprout. Give them one more week for stronger stems.
» Weeding, Watering and Spraying. After sowing. You need to feed your investment. Watering should be done in the morning, afternoon and evening for the first 5 days. After the 5 days, you can now start watering twice a day, morning and evening.
Make sure the water is not stagnant to prevent root rot and early right.
Spray your seedling after the five days to keep off amphids and termites. Weed off the aliens to prevent your seedlings from nutrient competition. Spray again after 10 days, 3 days before transplant.
» Tilling the land. By now you have the budget done,land acquired and the preferred seedlings purchased, seedlings have reached transplant stage and now its time to get dirty.
Till your land till it gives you that fine texture. While tiling, mix the soil with manure like cow dung, goat, sheep or chicken poop.
After that, measure the spacing of each hole. Not too close nor too far apart. A spacing of 60cm by 30 is advised.
» Transplanting. Make sure you water the seedlings well a night before. Transplanting should be done in the morning while the seeds are still fresh before the hot sun comes out.
Dig out the seedlings from the nursery with some soil around its roots. Then gradually plant the seedlings in the holes you dug and cover with loose soil, you can also add manure for more nutrients.
After the tiring process of planting, water the plants and water again the next morning. From now on, you should be watering twice a day (Morning hours and in the evening) for two more weeks to harden the plant.
After the two weeks, you will notice mini fruits sprouting out of the branches while some of the plants are still flowering. Spray your preferred pest control herbicide and also use one which prevents bright (the yellowing or turning of color or even some plants withering).
» Caring– After the start of flowering, support your plants with pieces of sticks, also connect the plants with its neighbors who using strings but make sure you don’t tie them too tight. Also keep weeding.
» Harvest– Now you are smiling. After the hard work, you can now see the results of your hard work. It’s now the 3rd week after transplant and your tomatoes are turning red, ready for market.
Check if 60% is ready for harvest. If yes, then that means money is just a minute away. Pick out the ready to harvest fruits.
The good thing with tomatoes is that they sell themselves while still in the farm and customers spread word of your mouth watering tomatoes.
You might even sell your first fruits without taking them to the market. After harvesting the ready fruits, store them in crates and don’t pile them up against each other.
» Start making money. Your plants can give you 3 or more harvests but on the fourth harvest, they have grown old and you can now start all over again from top to the end of this article.
*Parting short> You can never go wrong with tomatoes and they can make you an overnight millionaire.
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