Most farmers in Manicaland are reluctant to grow tomatoes preferring to concentrate on maize and other cash crops which has resulted in a spike in tomato prices on the market. Horticulture and tobacco specialist Mr Douglas Nzarayebani said the shift in focus to cereals has impacted negatively on tomato production resulting in the rise prices to $40-50 per a crate from the normal $20-25.
“At the moment, very few farmers are engaging in tomato production which has resulted in the price increase in the market. Most farmers are paying more attention to crops like maize, small grain crops and nuts,” he said
He said most farmers fear fungal diseases that usually attack the tomato crop during the rainy season.
Mr Nzarayebani also said the high temperatures being experienced could create a good environment for pests such as spider mite and tuta absoluta to thrive this season.
“Winter season from April –September can be a better season for tomato production if well monitored,” he said.
However, some market watchers argue that the scarcity of tomatoes on the market has not solely been a result of less production but over reliance on importation of tomatoes from Mozambique.