By Augustine Kambuzi Banda
If you are travelling to or from Lilongwe using M1 Road passing through Jenda rural growth center without buying Tomato then you are missing the most palatable Tomato most people cherish in the country which has also made most farmers improve their living standards.
The most Tomato that people buy in the country emanates from the areas of Champhira Extension Planning Area which are then transported to Jenda rural growth where selling and buying of Tomato reigns.
One well-known Tomato farmer in the area of Group Village Head Man Mswaphira Traditional Authority Maulabo in Mzimba, who have realized tremendous profits from Tomato sells Tobias Mwandira can sing songs of joy with farming.
In an interview with him, he boosted to have managed buying 2 Cattle’s at 180,000 kwacha ($240) 4 Goats at 60,000 kwacha ($80) one DT Motorbike at 850,000 kwacha ($1,133), Mwandila anticipate to buy a vehicle this year.
“After selling Tomato last year I managed to buy Cattle, Goats, one Motorbike and Dstv, am able to support my family through tomato farming.
My family is living a happy life we are in the village but able to watch soccer on Dstv people think these things are only possible for those who live in the City.
This year my plan is to buy a vehicle for transportation of my produce to the market, currently am using an oxcart and we usually travel at night to sell tomato at Jenda which gives pleasure and put our lives in danger”, he adds.
Despite these achievements Mwandila said in Tomato farming there are a lot problems which hinders yields, for instance he said pests and diseases are some of the challenges though technical intervention are planned to mitigate them.
“Tomato is one of the most difficult crops to cultivate it needs to much attention from the farmer, this year army worms engulfed our fields but we managed to treat them with pesticides”, said Mwandila.
Apart from Tobias Mwandila there are also other farmers in the same area who sing songs of joy with tomato farming, it’s like a tale of two cities, while people are making money in rural areas some people who flocked in urban areas to seek for greener pastures distinguishes town life with home.
In his remark Godfrey Chirwa from the same area who has stayed in Mzuzu City for 6 years said he has gained nothing tangible from city life.
Chirwa said he was shocked to find tremendous achievement his friends have gained through Tomato Farming when he visited his home.
“I was surprised looking at how people have improved at home, they have built houses roofed with iron sheets some have even bought motorbikes, the truth is that people in our area have improved, we were far much behind comparing with other villages but today things have changed.
Yes in town here we find money but not compared with what our friends have gained at home life is expensive today in our city which does not satisfy our unlimited needs, and because of this very soon I will be also settling home to start farming”, he adds
Meanwhile one of the leading organization in Mzuzu city which work with small farmers in the country Sprodeta says one way to help farmers gain profits on the market is to create cooperatives where farmers will be pricing there produce together.
In an interview with Paul Mazunda who work as Finance Administrator said cooperatives helps farmers to sell their produce at a better price compared to farmers selling to vendors without involving cooperative which blocks farmers from developing.
“As Sprodeta we believe in empowering farmers through capacity building, we have already built market shelters where farmers sell their produce, one shelter is at Bwengu and another one at Kasambakholi along M1 road, a lot of people use this road which means some may buy their products.
Our plan is to form cooperatives which will empower farmers to find markets for their produce and sell at good prices, usually vendors take advantage of buying at a low price when they are buying to one farmer but this time farmers will be able to face unscrupulous vendors”, he added.
Tomato is one of most commonly used fruits in kitchen across the globe for daily meals which s has an impact on the growth of the economy for countries which encourages farmers to venture in tomato farming rather than tobacco which has stopped trending well on the market.