The Glen Valley Horticultural incubator started selling its tomato produce to the local market last week after the previous incubator was remodelled to solve the problem of recipient failures.
The incubator previously leased land at subsidized rentals to its recipients for a period of three years, during which they also received requisite technology and business training. Since inception in 2011, the incubator has never recorded a single successfully implemented project by its former recipients. Only four of the 22 graduates demonstrated resilience and used past failures to forge a new success path. With the assistance of the incubator, the four graduates who grouped themselves have requested land from the Ministry of Agriculture to carry out their production.
In contrast to the previous model, the new model, established two months ago, houses 14 recipients. In the new arrangement, the incubator and recipients will sell tomato produce to the local market under a 80:20 profit sharing ratio, with the majority share accrued by the incubator. The incubator management explained that the 80 percent profit gain is re-invested into the project. Farms allocated to recipients differ by size and are granted according to the level of expertise and experience in tomato production. The incubator records the production of each farmer, following which 20 percent of the gain is divided in accordance to the respective share of the total production. The profit gain is realized after deducting the overall cost of production.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Frederic Motswaborwa a beneficiary of the remodelled incubation project expressed dissatisfaction with the profit sharing model, saying it was unfair as it failed to give a sufficient reward to successfully graduate from the project. Recipients are expected to graduate from the incubator after nine months, a period set according to the harvest period of a tomato.
The total farm size on which tomato production is done is 2.5 Ha and the weekly production is estimated at +/- 600 tonnes (600 000kg). Motswaborwa said following graduation farmers will still be faced with the challenge of acquiring finance to establish own production.
“If our share could be increased, we would be able to raise sufficient money to finance our own farms. The monetary value of open field farming, which is where our respective projects will be, is unconvincing to a financier such as CEDA given the risks involved such as unreliable rainfall,” he said.
He further explained that their farms would not have the same advantages as the technologically advanced incubators. Typically a tomato pack costs between P16 and P22 in a retail shop. Tomato production was favoured among other vegetables due to its varied use and its dire shortage in winter. A tomato is by nature a summer crop, which means that the incubator’s full year production gives it a competitive advantage.