A tomato greenhouse farm, constructed with local materials in Dar es Salaam, has elicited huge interest in Tanzania
The farm, which is in its initial stage, is expected to produce tomatoes worth US$12,738 per week after six months.
Tanzanian agricultural entrepreneur and farmer Benno Ndjovu said he had invested US$4,458 to construct the plastic greenhouse, fitted with a drip water irrigation system.
"The advantages of greenhouse farming is that production goes on throughout the year and does not depend on rain. The risk of diseases is also lower compared to open farming," Ndjovu pointed out.
He hoped greenhouse farming would decrease Dar es Salaam's dependence on upcountry tomato supply and added, "Making profit out of the land needs one to farm scientifically by timely applying the required inputs."
Ndjovu's greenhouse occupies an area of 12 metres by 42 metres and has been producing an average of 10 crates of tomatoes per week; a crate fetched US$16 in the market, Ndjovu said.
"Soon I will be able to load a five-tonne Fuso per week," he remarked.
Each tomato plant has a potential of producing up to 15kg at first harvest, going up to 60kg by the time it has completed its full cycle after six months, Ndjovu explained. The plant vines, which can grow up to 50 metres in height, are supported with sticks and special strings imported from Kenya.
The cost of farming at greenhouses are low compared to the open farming, Ndjovu revealed. The plants have shown higher yields and a shelf-life of 21 days while those grown in the open have a shelf-life of 14 days.
"It takes two months for greenhouse-produced tomatoes to mature, while it takes a minimum of three months with outdoor farming," he remarked. "What it needs most is plenty of water. Without water any commercial farming is unprofitable."
The agricultural entrepreneur said he planned to establish five hectares of greenhouse farms in Dar es Salaam which would be able to supply 2,000 crates of fresh tomatoes a week.
In comparison with poultry keeping, Ndjovu noted that greenhouse farming is more profitable as it needed less capital and is not time consuming compared to the former.