ZAMBIA – Tomato prices in Zambia have surged significantly with current prices doubling from an average of USD14 to USD28 per sandak (30kg) due to the current soaring demand against a short market supply.

This was revealed by Knowledge Transfer Africa (KTA) chief executive officer Dr Charles Dhewa recently while giving an update on trading activities at the markets.

“The demand for tomatoes was higher than supply in October with prices ranging from USD10 to USD18 per Sandak at the beginning of the month rising to around USD28 currently,” he said.

The decline in supplies is a result of challenges in accessing irrigation water by some farmers amid reports that water levels in wells have dropped significantly.

“It has become common for tomato prices to increase at the beginning of October in response to water shortages in high producing areas like Mutoko, Murewa, Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe and Macheke districts during this period and preceding month,” Dr Dhewa added.

Water sources in the region tend to run dry at the end of August, September and October affecting tomato production, hence the ensuing shortages.

He further explained that last year the increased demand for tomatoes was counteracted by increased imports of the product from Zimbabwe.

The current prevailing high prices, in his view, provide an incentive for local farmers to expand tomato production with improved supply expected in the coming months.

“Farmers are now faced with the task of meeting the growing demand without compromising the quality of the fruit and the environment,” Dr. Dhewa observed.

Many farmers are venturing into tomato production under greenhouses to counteract the negative impact of climate change, so supply is more likely to increase.

The 2022/23 summer season second round crop, livestock and fisheries assessment (CLAFA 2) report revealed that tomato production increased by 19% from 281 610 tons in the 2021/22 season to 336 300 tons in the 2022/23 period.

Area under production slightly increased by 7% from 10 430 to 11 210 hectares with productivity rising by 11% from 27 to 30 tons per hectare, said the report.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Rural Development Program has distributed 2 799 819 vegetable combos to 2 799 819 households across the country representing 80% of the 3 500 000 earmarked.

The vegetable combo comprises one gram each of tomato, onion, carrot, and cabbage.

In another report by FAO, tomato production reached 25.9 kt (Metric Kiloton) in 2021 in Zambia. This was 0.130% more than in the previous year.

Zambia has been ranked 104th within the group of 153 leading tomato exporting countries in the globe.

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