For Heredia tomato farmer, the investment is 90-day betFrom: www.amcostarica.com
Tomato prices are high, and substantial areas are being planted around Santo Domingo de Heredia, but a local farmer only wanted to talk about the risk involved.
Jorge Chávez of San Isidro has a hectare of freshly planted tomato, while the large area around Santo Tomas and Los Angeles de Santo Domingo belongs to the largest tomato grower in the country, Javier Rojas. The latter has packing plants in Grecia.
Land is available since coffee is unprofitable over the long term and when plants need to be replaced it’s just as easy to grow something else. Some places have tomatoes on fairly steep slopes which have traditionally only been used for coffee. Considerable land in the Santo Domingo area is held by speculators who don’t mind if they can get some rent in the meantime.
Chávez takes his produce to the CENADA wholesale market. He also grows some string beans and other green vegetables for the local market.
Agriculture requires faith in the price that will be there when the product is ready for harvest, in the case of tomatoes in Heredia after 90 days. Chavez said that the elaborate setup for tomatoes costs about 1,000 colons per plant, with 10,000 plants per hectare. This includes the plants themselves, poles and plastic for the “semi-greenhouse” sheltering the rows, PVC drip-irrigation tubing and/or sheet plastic to maintain moisture in the soil, and wind blocks. The rows are oriented towards the prevailing wind which changes with the season in the area near the Zurquí pass.
Chemicals used are mostly insecticides for a tiny white moth that feeds on the sap of the plants, with various other boring worms that attack the stems and fruit.
In good conditions each plant should produce about five kilograms of tomatoes over its lifetime, so the price received must be at least 200 colons per kilo to break even. At the moment the price for an 18-kilo tub at CENADA is 13,000 colons, or 720 colons per kilo.
For much of last year, the price was only 1,500 colons for 18 kilos, and Chávez said he lost 20 million colons.
Word of the Day
Main Entry: steep
Etymology: Middle English stepe, from Old English stēap high, steep, deep; akin to Old Frisian stāp steep, Middle High German stief — more at stoop
Date: before 12th century
1 : lofty, high —used chiefly of a sea
2 : making a large angle with the plane of the horizon
3 a : mounting or falling precipitously <the stairs were very steep> b : being or characterized by a rapid and intensive decline or increase
4 : extremely or excessively high <steep prices>
— steep·ish adverb
— steep·ly adverb
— steep·ness noun
Latter: adj. being the second mentioned of two
Prevailing: adj. being the second mentioned of two
Risk: n. exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance
Sap: n. the juice or vital circulating fluid of a plant, esp. of a woody plant
Speculator: n. a person who is engaged in commercial or financial speculation
Substantial: adj. of ample or considerable amount, quantity, size, etc.
Wholesale: adj. of, relating to, or engaged in the sale of commodities in quantity for resale