- Vegetables: tomatoes
- Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
- Production Systems: general crop production
The demand for tomatoes in Palau is quite high. Farmers are keen to grow tomatoes but are hesitant due to many failed attempts, e.g. hydroponics (due to contamination), high tunnels (due to excessive heat, humidity and wind), open fields (due to diseases), high risk, high cost, the prevalence of blossom end rot (due mainly to calcium deficiency), diseases (due partially to overhead watering), cracked fruit (due to frequent heavy rains), losses due to sun scald (20%), fruit flies (70-90%) and poor fruit set (due to hard hitting rain and high night time temperatures).
This project attempted in a systematic, sustainable low-cost manner through shade netting and other methods to overcome these constraints. The project overcame all these constraints except diseases. White flies and aphids were able to find a way into the shadehouses and were vectors for diseases. Due to the rapid build-up of algae and fungus in the shadehouses it is theorized that 50% shade netting does not let in enough sun to keep algae and fungus at bay. Due to the high prevalence of diseases in surrounding areas, solarization only briefly eliminates diseases, for reintroduction of diseases was rapid through air and water.
Tomato production by other producers increased in Palau after first harvest of the project (based on produce records of a leading retailer). The tomatoes grown were marketed through existing marketing channels and complemented the existing produce line by attracting additional and new customers. There is high demand for vine ripened locally grown tomatoes.
The project will increase overall farm production levels by about 12% (based on production levels of first harvest extrapolated) if current constraints are overcome. A leading retailer purchases tomatoes at $1.50/lb. The demand at this retailer exceeds 60 pounds per week. Tangy taste is sought out by consumers. Normally tomatoes are harvested three times a week.
* Maintain and enhance the quality and productivity of the soil through use of a shredder to produce organic materials for mulching, composting and incorporation into the soil.
*Promote crop and enterprise diversification by overcoming the constraints of tropical tomato production through shade netting and other methods in a systematic, sustainable low-cost manner