Well guys, I know you're reading this because you're curious and yes, also because the price of tomatoes has gone up. I don't know about you but where I live, we're buying a tomato for 15 shillings and that's even a small tomato. It's so small that you can only cook a single omelette with it.
Annoying and unfair to be honest!
Unfortunately, there's no substitute for tomatoes and we Kenyans love them. Tomato is among the most highly consumed vegetables in Kenya and it's grown for fresh market, processing and export market. This is why I'm getting in to the buiness of growing and selling tomatoes. By the way, I'm not even scared that you'll copy my idea because it's a great one that I don't mind sharing.
This isn't like the quail eggs phenomenon from back in 2013/2014, remember that? A rather well-known secret on the streets which was just a scam! A helping of two quail eggs a day was said to be the answer to multiple problems. I won't even get in to it. Story for another day.
Anyway, why should we do tomatoes?
Tomatoes ready for harvest. Photo Elkana Jacob
1. Resistant to damage
You start by getting the hybrid called Zara F1 tomato variety and you can find it easily. This one is tolerant to pests and diseases and climate change so yes, you'll produce more "nyanya" as they are referred to in swahili. Also, it matures early so you won't have to wait too long.
Roast chicken, grilled meat, boiled eggs on the streets, smokies... you get the drift. These are all consumed because of Kachumbari. What's the most important ingredient in Kachumbari? Yep, you guessed it (and no, it's not chilli)
Traders at Eldoret Municipal Market purchasing tomatoes from a truck.
3. You don't need to do it in Nairobi
Yes, that farm you're leaving to stay idle upcountry can be put in to some good use. If you've traveled along Kerugoya-Kutus road recently at the Karia shopping centre you'll notice tens of tomatoes packed in boxes ready for the market. Young farmers on both sides of the road selling. They are disappointed by poor returns from maize, have ventured in to tomatoes.
4. Cheap to start
Income versus cost from tomato farming is a no-brainer. In fact, you can easily get carried away when people explain to you how you easily make money in profit from selling tomato. You don't need a lot of capital to start.
There are no excuses especially if you have a Safaricom line. M-shwari is waiting for you. Take a loan of sh. 3,000/= and within a month, you pay just sh. 3,225/=. By that time, you've made your profit of sh. 2,000/= and the rest becomes history. M-Shwari has helped a lot of people to do their business actually.
Tomatoes ready for harvest in one of the green houses in Yatta photo Jack Owuor
5. A lot of advice online
Whether you want to get in to the business of selling tomatoes or farming tomatoes in Kenya, the internet isn't short of advice. The website ypard.net will give you advice on what mistakes to avoid. You can also look for Githaka Nyingi's story. A young man minting serious money in his locality from tomato farming, just three years since he ventured into it.
I'm getting in to the tomato business and because I'm like you, I'll start with a mobile loan on M-Shwari.