The Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) is mobilising funds to buy tomato processing equipment which is estimated at K6.9 million each.

Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) director general James Chirwa said in an interview that the equipment would be producing a variety of tomato products.

“We are at a stage where we are sourcing for funds that we need to set up this equipment. It will cost us about US$600,000 to set up one plant and that is what we are looking for,” he said.

“We are at fund mobilisation level; as you know for us that is another important aspect that we want to undertake because it’s going to save our women marketers from street vending to a more formal business of supplying processed tomato products,” Mr Chirwa said. He said ZCF was currently having discussions with some possible funders of this project.

According to Mr Chirwa, the plants would be set up in different parts of the country to assist tomato farmers, especially women who sold tomatoes recover their capital which was wasted when the product got rotten. He said ZCF observed that tomato traders wasted a lot of tomatoes which were not bought by customers hence losing their capital.

“If you go to these markets, you will find rotten tomatoes being thrown away but you must realise that a lot of money is spent to buy those tomatoes,’’ Mr Chirwa said.

He explained that once the plants were set up, collection bins would be placed in all major markets allowing easy access for tomato dealers to sell their commodity.

“By throwing away tomatoes, it means they are throwing value so their capital keeps on declining because some of it is being thrown away. “So we are saying we can address this issue by putting tomato processing plants in major cities targeting markets as sources of raw materials,” Mr Chirwa said.

He said the project would indirectly improve tomato traders’ income because instead of throwing away the tomatoes, they would be taking them to processors.

Mr Chirwa said tomato products would be properly packaged to international standards for export if the local market could not consume all the products.

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