Quality Tomatoes: A Simple Step to a Sustainable Livelihood
Jenipher Yohane is a member of the Mtendere Women’s Farmer Field School group. One of the main areas of focus for this Farmer Field School is the farming of tomatoes.
Tomatoes are one of the most widely grown vegetable throughout Malawi. This is because they can be grown year round and normally takes an average of 90 days to mature. Unfortunately, due to their highly perishable nature, if not picked at the right time or stored incorrectly, much of the crop will spoil before it can be consumed or sold.
The Mtendere Farmer Field School has taught women, like Jenipher, who are struggling to support their families, how to grow, store and market tomatoes. Members have learnt that it is very important to stack the crop to make sure that the tomatoes do not sit on the ground where they will rot or become damaged by the heat and other crawling pests. “It is important to harvest tomatoes when they have just started ripening and arrange for marketing as soon as possible because tomatoes are a perishable commodity.” said Jenipher.
“Good quality tomatoes will always attract a large number of customers at the market. Our tomatoes are of good quality. That’s why we are selling a large quantity very fast” continued Jenipher with a smile. “Apart from selling we are also using some of the tomatoes to feed our families which will help to improve our household nutrition.“
With the success of the first year of tomato farming the women of the Mtendere Farmer Field School have decided to use their profits to increase their cultivation land. They will now be able to diversify their crops while continuing to grow and sell quality tomatoes.