Farmers supported by the Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Food Security Project (SAIP) in Nyabihu District, Western Province have started earning huge income from tree-tomato farming (tamarillo) more than a year after venturing into the crop.
Before the SAIP intervention in the area, farmers did not know much about tree tomato farming. However, what started as a pilot phase marked the beginning of large scale cultivation of tree tomatoes.
SAIP mobilized Nyabihu farmers to focus more on growing crops that would bring in cash and as well promote healthy eating habits among households which prompted many farmers to embrace tree tomatoes and other horticultural crops.
“I started growing tree-tomatoes in 2019 after SAIP encouraged us to grow fruits and vegetables as part of the campaign to improve household nutrition and the promotion of commercial farming in Nyabihu,” says Theodomile Sebageni, a resident of Kayanza Village, Mwanike Cell, Muringa Sector, Nyabihu District.
“I started with 1,500 trees after receiving seeds and fertilizers from SAIP. The yield is amazing and the market is available which has inspired me to focus more on tree tomato farming,” added Sebageni.
He says that SAIP has mobilized them to expand the cultivation of tree tomatoes by forming a Self Help Group (SHG) and now they have planted 7,500 trees as Tujyane Nigihe SHG on a 3 ha portion of land.
According to him, SAIP provided them with tree-tomato seeds, fertilizers and agronomic support which have boosted the crop productivity. They have been able to amass fortune by selling the tomatoes.
“There is always a ready market for the tree tomato fruits, and nothing inspires a farmer like a reliable and stable market for crops,” said Sebageni.
Sebageni who is married with four children, says that he sells his tree tomato fruits at 700Rwf per kilogram to local markets and in 5 months, after deducting all his expenses, he says that is able to bank more than 4,000,000Rwf, money he says he never expected to earn.
Sebageni added that he consumes some of the tree tomato fruits with his family noting that fruits are a good source of vitamins.
“I started cultivating tree tomatoes in September after seeing how my fellow farmers are making profits from the crop. I have started with 1,250 trees on 50 Ares and I hope to increase on the number of trees gradually,” says Emmanuel Ngabonzima, a resident of Bugonde village, Kibisabo cell, Rambura sector in Nyabihu district.
“SAIP provided me with tree tomato seeds, fertilizers and as advised me on how to take care of the crop from planting to maturity. I am looking forward to generate huge investment returns from the fruit within one year,” added Ngabonzima.
According to him, he is expecting that by the end of October next year, he will be able to produce around 600 kilogram weekly, earning him between Rwf400, 000 to Rwf450, 000 every week.
“I encourage everyone to embrace agribusiness venture that is more profitable rather than depending on traditional ways that require more inputs with fewer returns," advises Ngabonzima.
Through SAIP support, farmers in Nyabihu District have taken initiatives such as the use of land management techniques, the production of compost and improved farming methods and as well as cultivation of horticultural crops which have greatly increased crop produce hence improved livelihoods.