“I grew the Anja 1 tomatoes, first as a trial, in November last year. I was told to use trays to make a nursery bed. Then I planted directly into the soil. It worked well. I was trained by Savio Magala from Namunkekera Agro Industries Limited (Napil) in Kapeeka, Nakaseke District,” Evelyn Kyarimpa recollects.
She had gone to buy seeds of beans and maize from Namunkekera, an agricultural company that sells seeds, fertilisers and machinery. They had a demonstration for a number of vegetables, including those of Anja 1 that is supplied by House of Seeds (HOS).
Anja 1 tomato
“I was drawn towards the Anja 1 tomatoes because they looked good. They were big, smart and the way they grew, upwards, got me curious. I had seen the more common tomatoes that grow on the ground,” Kyarimpa, a farmer in Kapeeka further recounts.
She sought to know more, through asking questions, for example how long the Anja 1 tomato takes from planting to harvesting.
According to Magala, an agro trainer at Napil, Anja 1 requires to be planted in well prepared soils, fortified with manure before planting. A seed will germinate in four or five days.
“It has a good germination rate of between 85 and 100 per cent, depending on how keen and proactive a farmer is. When you plant it in the nursery, you are advised to transplant it in two to three weeks because it grows upwards. Within a month, it will begin fruiting. It uses less pesticides compared to the more common tomatoes on the market,” Magala explains. He adds that when planting, space it two by two feet.
Magala’s resolve is to expand. “I was not serious with book-keeping. I have expanded and they are now flowering. I now want to do it as a business. For the first time, I was planting for my family to consume,” she explains.
The initial journey has taught her lessons she will need to commercialise her current planting. They are grown the way sweet potatoes are grown, with soil mounds that keep water in the soil.
“They do not consume a lot of water though. When it rains, they are not affected unlike the types that grow on the lower ground surface. You have to buy bamboo or climbing. Looking for bamboo was difficult. I got the bamboo in Namugongo, towards Seeta. Each bamboo cost me Shs1,000. They sell in bundles of 10. They are strong. I bought 300 in total,” she recalls.
She has planted about 200 seedlings which she bought from Napil, at Shs57, 000. The seeds were from House of Seeds (HOS). Samuel Kawere is the manager at Napil.
He explains that Anja 1 is a new tomato seed on the market which is gaining acceptance within the farming community. “It is resistant to prolonged dry spells and disease resistant, so far. One plant can fruit up to 200 tomatoes. After harvest, it can stay fresh for up to a month,” he explains. Kawere, a graduate from Nyabyeya Forestry College cautions that unlike selling it in a ply, it is advisable to sell in kilogrammes. A kilogramme can fetch Shs2,000.
“You can harvest one tonne from an acre. The keener you are on caring for it, the more profits you will be assured. Well, the tomato market is not stable but if the timing is right, Anja 1 can fetch you a good return on investment,” Napil’s farm service centre manager adds. In terms of caring for her gardens, Kyarimpa has followed Magala’s advice to occasionally water the tomatoes as well as mulching and spraying them, at least twice a week.
“During rainy season, you can spray twice a week and once during the dry season. I use Fungal Cure which I buy from agricultural shops. Each litre costs Sgs27, 000. I have bought three litres since last year. I need a little, not even a quarter. I have used fertilisers, NPK. I bought a 50-kilogramme at Shs120, 000. I put a table spoon on each plant,” she explains. The farmer however cautions on too much use of fertilisers as it might burn or adversely affect the tomato plant.
The tomato seeds are small, like granules. Kyarimpa’s garden is a healthy one, well weeded, and maintained. There is a worker on site to monitor the tomatoes in different gardens. She would like to keep a steady cycle of income. She is currently harvesting from one garden while another is flowering.
“If you start harvesting, you can do so every week if you can harvest every week. You can harvest four to six months. I am planning to expand. I would like to grow Anja 1 to on more space. I want to prepare and plant another garden.”
She is trying to learn about the market so that it can guide her on the best seasons to plant and then harvest in order to get the best prices from efforts of growing the tomato.
She adds, “From the first planting, I realised that Anja 1 is not difficult to manage. Everyone needs tomatoes which gives me confidence that I am assured of a market. I also have a banana plantation.”
The advice she gets from Magala is essential for continuity of her farming undertaking. For example, she has been introduced to cheaper support stems, away from relying on bamboo. She is using poles and ropes. A carton of ropes is Shs50, 000. With poles, she is able to bargain with farmers. From one tree, she is able to get two or three poles, each at averagely Shs3, 200.
It ripens within two and a half months compared to the common type that ripens in four months. “You make a fair investment but realise more returns. You will harvest it for a period of up to four months.”
The agro trainer cautions that you only harvest the ripe tomatoes and not the semi-ripe in order to realise more fruiting tomatoes.
“The Anja 1 variety is dry weather resistant. You spray it between four and seven days. It is not easily wilted and not prone to black spot disease. It is relatively new. I visit Kyarimpa’s garden every week,” Magala further explains.
She has so far harvest once from which she got one box that is as big as four to six basins. The box fetched her Shs250,000. She sold her harvest to an individual who paid her at the garden.