Practices and constraints of tomato production among smallholder farmers in Uganda
Tomato (Solanum esculentum) is one of the most promising vegetables whose production is being intensified in Uganda. However, tomato yields remain low due to several constraints. The study aimed at identifying production and marketing practices, and constraints affecting tomato productivity in major tomato growing areas of Uganda. A survey was conducted in eight major tomato producing districts using a questionnaire to guide interviews for 240 farmers and 16 key informants. The data were analyzed using SPSS software. Results revealed that tomato production in Uganda is dominated by males who grow them on 0.68 acres of land on average. Most tomato farmers (78.4%) use mono cropping system with varieties Asilla F1 (35.3%), Tengeru97 (21.1%), Rambo (18.1%), Novela F1 (17.7%) and Riogrande (10.3%) dominating. The choice of tomato varieties used by farmers mainly depend on yield potential, pest and disease tolerance and market preference attributes such as long shelf life. In the study area, tomato is mainly fertilized using foliar fertilizers, followed by Diammonium phosphate and cattle manure. The key pests affecting tomato include caterpillars, thrips, worms and whitefly, while bacterial wilt, blight, leaf spots and viral infections are the major diseases. Majority (95.7%) of farmers use chemical sprays (pesticides and fungicides) and 4.3% of farmers used other control methods. The other methods of pest and disease control included rogueing, hand picking, ash, organic extracts, urine and frequent weeding. Average tomato yield was 4,846.3 kg/acre lower than the potential yield of 6000kg/acre. Thirty five percent of farmers market their tomato individually on-farm, 32.8% sell in rural markets, while 32.2% send to the nearest urban markets. The study revealed intensive chemical use accounting for 20% of the production costs, high seed costs (11%) and drought (10%) as the major production constraints impeding tomato production; and price fluctuations, low prices, high transport costs, post-harvest loss on farm, and poor market access as the major marketing constraints. The research findings will aid in the development of new market-oriented, highly productive tomato varieties with improved access to seed and designing initiatives to address production and marketing constraints, which will eventually enhance tomato production.
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