Tomato growing in winter as an attractive investment segment in Tajikistan
In the first instance, Tajikistani greenhouse farmers will have to focus on saturating the domestic tomato market in winter, says Mr. Andriy Yarmak, Economist of the FAO Investment Center on his Facebook page. “Farmers should primarily saturate the domestic market with tomatoes. Why? Tomatoes give the highest yield per square meter. They also have an advantage in prices, which are usually higher than cucumber ones in winter, and tomato prices are indeed high in Tajikistan in winter. Thus, tomatoes are able to offer record high profits from a hectare, which can then be re-invested in developing production of other crops”, he says.
Winter production of tomatoes in Tajikistan faces lack of lighting as the main problem. “During the store check of Dushanbe supermarkets we saw domestic tomatoes, which were pale and lacked lighting. Lighting usually costs more than heating and is a rather significant investment. There have already been some tests of introducing LED-lighting into greenhouse technologies, which, however, represent even larger investments than incandescent lamps. Nevertheless, Tajikistan has a great advantage of sufficient quantity of warmth and no need to install additional heating in greenhouses in the southern regions in winter.
In any case, it is impossible to grow high-quality tomatoes without use of lighting in Tajikistan in winter. That is exactly why the supply is insufficient in winter, and high-quality tomatoes arrive in the market only in April-May, which is later than in Ukraine with colder weather conditions”, Mr. Yarmak adds.
Farmers from the southern regions of Tajikistan harvest their first volumes of greenhouse cucumbers and tomatoes without use of heating in April. Southern regions also grow bell peppers and herbs, which are then sold in Dushanbe and Qurghonteppa.
Tajikistani farmers as well grow greenhouse dill, basil, onions, coriander and garlic. Northern regions of the country produce rather large volumes of basil. Greenhouses grow herbs all year round, and they are sold mainly in the domestic market, as Tajikistani cuisine applies fresh basil in salads and dried basil in soups.
According to the Plant Growing Department of the Ministry of Agriculture of Tajikistan, areas under vegetable greenhouses totaled 76.9 ha in the country in 2018, an increase of 10.9 ha year-over-year. As of June 2018, Tajikistani farmers have already harvested 767 tons of tomatoes, 412.7 tons of cucumbers and 449.6 tons of other vegetables.