In our country Kenya where agriculture is regarded to be a readily available economic activity and means of wealth creation, any new and effective method of farming can be easily adopted. This explains why greenhouse farming is becoming more popular in different parts of the country. Therefore, if you are passionate about agriculture, then establishing a greenhouse farming business can be the ideal way of turning our hobby into an income generating activity. With tomato as your major focus which Kenya agricultural livestock and research organization has ranked as the number one vegetable in the country? You are granted to millions of shillings in earning but only if you approach smart approaches to the best out of the enterprises.
Some major factors to consider as a beginner in the greenhouse tomato farming are;
Cost of starting
The prices tend to vary depending on the acre sizes. The most common sizes of greenhouses in Kenya are 8m by 15m, 8m by 30m and 8m by 60m. Horticultural produce like tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, onions and capsicum do very well under greenhouses, therefore with as little as ksh40, 000 miniature greenhouse kits, an initiative of the Kenya Agriculture Research Initiative.
Retail prices for bigger kits begin at Ksh100, 000 to Ksh150, 000. An example, a greenhouse that is 8m and 15m goes for Ksh100,000 this is inclusive of the cost of the materials for construction, a drip kit for irrigation together with the tank, seeds, fertilizer and soil preparation that entails polarization to kill pest and disease causing organisms.
Where to start the business
There is no single best way to grow greenhouse tomatoes. An individual get to develop experience of his own tomato production to determine the best and most economic techniques in his greenhouse. It is highly recommended that for the method used, be it the soil or soilless media (even with the use of loam soil), the required conditions are strictly followed; especially the micro-climatic condition of the tomato developed in greenhouse and this will consequently impact the yield.
Tomatoes are warm season vegetable crop. They grow best under conditions of high light and warm temperatures. Greenhouses work best for the tomatoes as they regulate the lighting and temperature. Therefore the optional temperature for tomatoes at the greenhouse should be at 15 to 30 degrees Celsius and not beyond 35 degree Celsius. During the night the temperature are maintained at around 1 to 30 degree Celsius.
Greenhouse with only insects nets on the walls are unsuitable for areas with low temperatures like the highlands of Kericho, Mau Narok, Molo and Mt Kenya regions but may have positive effects in hot and warm areas such as Mombasa, Kitui and Garissa. Ideally farmers should have a thermometer for measuring temperature inside the greenhouse for effective management. This is good for enhanced production of greenhouse tomato.
The Target Market
The tomato commands a special place because it is used in every household, poor or rich and it is a must-have in most kitchens. Here is a crop that is consumed daily and it is, therefore, a potential source of income from people who earn a living from the soil. This is good news especially for farmers whose soils are infertile and for those who want to make good money
Farmers who have ventured into this business make a living of ksh 90, 000 to 480,000 from at least one to three greenhouses. However, before you decide to go big you need to learn the ropes first on a small scale before going all out. This is because tomatoes are quite sensitive to heat, water and soil condition.
Initial capital for the business
The required all depends and all vary depending on the location and the quantity you wish to sell. If your plan is to buy and sell at a largescale then it’s advisable to have a start-up of ksh 200,000 at the very least. This will including having a means of transport that will deliver the tomatoes from the greenhouse to the market place. Although if you tend to have a grocery that sells tomatoes alone very little initial capital is required, from as Ksh 20,000 to Ksh 50,000 you are comfortably start the business in Nairobi.
Pricing products that do not have an establish market can be difficult. Tomato produce, like any other products, can be priced in variety of ways. Pricing can be as simple as listening and watching customers. One farmer’s market producer believes if you do not have a percentage of potential customers walk away from the table your price is too low. Other producers won’t sell a product if the price is not above the cost of producing and market that product. They feel like if you can’t sell a product for a profit, then you should not grow it.
In general, products can be priced based on one or three ways; customers, competition or costs. Customers based pricing is focused on how the customer values the product and how customers respond to different price levels. What is she willing to pay based on the perceived benefits of the products? There several variation of customer based pricing. Penetration marketing is where low price is set to gain initial market tomato recognition. Once the market share is gained and customer loyalty established, prices may be increased.
In conclusion, doing a good research and getting to understand what the greenhouse farming is all about inclusive of getting to understand the climate and humidity around are the basis of excellent greenhouse tomato farming. Tomatoes do not really require a fertile soil, they work well under soil chemicals and fertilizers thus can be planted in infertile soil. The produce and the profit made is more which is 100% guaranteed, you get to spend less from purchasing the piece of land, getting to put up the electricity and the water supply and from that the profit or earning is tremendous. Above all banks are willing to work with farmers more so they offer loans if your start-up capital is less for the large scale farming.