Tree tomato is also referred to as a tamarillo and was initially planted in South and Central America before being introduced in Kenya by Asia in the late 1800s.
The tree is majorly grown in Kisii, Kakamega, Migori, Muranga, Meru, Embu, Nyeri, Nyandarua, Kericho among other places. In the Central part of Kenya, tree tomatoes have got the best reception for they do very well in that area.
The fruit is an egg-shaped, many-seeded berry almost similar to a tomato in size. Once you scoop the flesh from halved pieces, you just eat the fruit fresh. You can choose to remove the skin by pouring boiling water over the fruit then let it stand for about 5 minutes before you peel.
Due to the tasty flavor in the tree tomatoes, you can choose to add it to stews as an appetizer. You can also blend the fruit with sugar and make a very sweet juice.
Varieties of Tree-Tomatoes
Tree tomatoes come in different varieties, but their color bring the overall difference.
Red fruits– due to their appealing color, they are used for fresh market.
Yellow fruits– theyre good for preserving due to their flavour
Dark red or black fruits– they are of high quality and quite large.
Tree Tomato Seedlings and Plantation.
The life expectancy of the crop is close to 12 years and depending on the cultivator, peak production Iis attained after 3-6 years. However, fruits develop within 18 months of planting. Additionally, there is a grafted tree tomato, with a longer life span of about fifteen years.
According to reliable sources, a tree tomato can take even a year to fully mature snd become productive. This assures farmers of a quick return on investment.
The farmer has to select a sunny area that is not exposed to hot wind for the tree tomatoes that are shallow non-moving. If the tree suffers from any injury especially on the soft parts, ensure you tip out these shoots for easier recovery.
In the process of planting, one makes seedbeds that are then transplanted into the planting papers after one month. The farmer has to wait for another one month for the seedlings to reach their desired size of about 2 feet. The seedlings are then planted into a hole of about 2 feet cubic square. The spacing of about 2 meters should be observed.
Proper preparation of the hole should be done and the soil mixed with manure to enable absorption of nutrients and water by the seedling from the soil. The fruit requires alot of water for it to maintain good yields. A farmer can ensure constant supply of water by connecting drip lines into his farm.
The only challenge with tree tomatoes is invasion by aphids and bright diseases, but prevention and cure is a guarantee since one has to be equipped with pesticides and fungicides.
Harvesting Tree Tomatoes
From the period of transplanting, the early-season tomatoes need approximately 50 -60 days to reach harvest. The mid season tomatoes require 60-80 days, whereas the late-season tomatoes need atleast 80 days.
Tree tomatoes have a guarantee market structure, assuring farmers of a great return. Nothing inspires a farmer like a ready market that is stable and reliable for this enables farmers to expand their tree tomato farming.
Due to the few challenges in farming, the farmer is able to get a high return on his investment and easily expand his agribusiness.
According to reliable sources, peak production of only half an acre which can host about 4oo trees yields to about 800 kilograms of tree tomatoes per week. This yield results in a weekly return on investment of between Kshs. 56,000 to Kshs.72,000.
A farmer can even start with as low as 20 trees and within the year he upgrades to the maximum trees he can afford. Besides this, one can advance into grafting the tree tomatoes seedlings then sell them to farmers at affordable prices.
Farmers should engage into this type of agribusiness for it guarantees low input and high return on investment.