COMESA tips Zambia on tomato value addition

Zambia can be the region’s major exporter of tomato paste, said Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Director of Industry and Agriculture, mr. Thierry Kalonji.

Kalonji said investment in tomato processing plants will reverse the situation where Zambia imports tomato paste, despite being a large producer of raw tomatoes. “Most of the tomatoes produced in Zambia go to waste, resulting in farmers losing valuable income they could earn by exporting paste,” he said.

Tomatoes are one of the most important vegetables in Zambia and is grown commercially and on a small scale. Highest yields are obtained in the dry season under irrigation and lowest during the rainy season from the end of October to the end of March.

Local producers are besieged by falling prices for the crop, after cheap imports flooded the market. Farmers asked for a ban on the imports, but COMESA protocols prohibit it.

Kalonji said addressing poor processing technology and a lack of proper storage and transport systems will raise the incomes of local producers.

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