Vegetable farmers receive training in tomato value addition

A group of 18 female vegetable farmers from Omaheke, Otjozondjupa and Kunene regions gathered in a three-day value addition training course at Otjiwarongo this week, where they were taught to process raw tomatoes into bottled tomato sauce.

Their tutor, Monika Styger, who has been processing raw tomatoes into tomato sauce and bottling for commercial purposes at her farm in the Outjo district for more than 10 years, described the training course in Otjiwarongo a success.

The practical training started Thursday morning until Saturday afternoon at the town, she said.

“Our main objective is that of stopping our nation from importing bottled tomato sauce from elsewhere, while we can produce it here locally,” she said.

Styger said five other women, including the former Otjozondjupa Chief Regional Officer, Jeaneth Kuhanga and Rutonda Katjivikua, a commercial farmer in the Otjinene area, have put up resources to drive this tomato value addition training course for free in all 14 regions.

She stated that their bottled tomato sauce produced at the practical classes here is similar to that sold in supermarkets, and can also last on shelves for a period of three years.

“Our tomato sauce is made out of locally produced raw tomatoes, boiled into ordinary water before crushed into liquid and mixed with vinegar, sugar and spices and then reboiled again before bottling them for use,” she said.

Styger added that their final tomato sauce product has no preservatives.

So far a similar course was offered in Gobabis in January this year, as well as in Rehoboth in August, she said.

Oshakati is next for the course, stated Styger.

Jacky Karunga, one of the participants in the training, told Nampa in an interview that her family will never again buy tomato sauce in a shops as she is a crop farmer herself, who is now skilled on how to prepare tomato sauce for consumption or sale.

Maureen Katua, another participant in the training said it is high time for Namibians, mostly young people, to venture into raw tomato production and value addition for commercial reasons.

Source: The Namibian Press Agency