Tomato dealer at Arusha’s main tomato market.
Photos: AVRDC

17.08.2015

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An ingenious combination of plant breeding, contract farming and processing has enabled smallholder tomato growers to tap new markets in Tanzania’s Arusha Region. Two improved tomato cultivars released from AVRDC lines are at the centre of this success story.

Just like in many other African regions, it was not easy for the tomato producers in Tanzania’s Arusha region to find a market for their produce for a long time. A major portion of the highly perishable fruit ended up on the rubbish tip because it had gone bad during storage or transportation or no buyers could be found. Or the farmers had to underprice their goods. But since a young entrepreneur set up a processing factory in the late 1990s, the entire sector has been in the ascendant.

Looking for the perfect tomato

The origins of this success story go back to the early 1990s. This was when AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center embarked on a project to develop tropical tomatoes for Africa with resistance to viruses, late blight and other diseases. These disease-resistant lines would need to tolerate hot, humid conditions; yield well; and have improved shipping qualities and shelf life to survive transport on rough roads.

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