Matsiloje — Mr Vusumuzi Setlhare, 53, has found a niche in tomato production and from the look of things there is no going back.
He owns an 18 hectare horticulture farm about five kilometres west of Matsiloje at Lephane lands along Ramokgwebana River.
In an interview, Mr Setlhare said he was happy with the produce ever since he started the project last year January. Most of his customers are street vendors who collect the tomatoes straight from the farm.
Mr Setlhare said he only drove to Francistown to supply other informal businesses at the Francistown markets and the surrounding areas. He said he had not yet tried chain stores or supermarkets as he did not have the capacity to supply them regularly.
He explained that after sowing his tomato seeds, he transplanted them in a period of 52 days and harvested in three months. His plan to supply the rest of the year includes doing one tunnel monthly which is 100m x 7m.
The farmer said he used irrigation farming and drew water from the river which is about 110 metres away to fill his 28 000 litre Jojo tanks to water his produce which also includes maize, water melons and fodder for his small stock.
Mr Setlhare intends to build a reservoir and an orchard in the farm. Farming has its own challenges. He lost 60 per cent of his produce due to extreme weather.
He had planted but most of the plants were affected by extreme cold weather which was below four degrees Celsius. Army worms also attacked his maize.
Mr Setlhare, who holds two degrees of Bachelors of Commerce and Bachelors of Law (LLB), said for the project to kick-start in 2012, he had injected over P1.6 million from his pocket to do everything needed in the farm.
He said for one to engage in agriculture, the was need for research, saying he enriched his soils with kraal manure and not fertilizers.
His company, Cooperate Renewal Holding PTY (Ltd), trading as CRH tomatoes, has engaged seven full-time and three temporary employees. He said it was a family business co-owned by him, his wife, three sons and a daughter. ends/bopa/eps/03/01/21
Source : BOPA