Grafting Tomatoes for a Strong Harvest
By Nonin Chhor, East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation Manager for Cambodia.
KAMPOT PROVINCE, CAMBODIA — At age 59, Chhean Kin has more than 35 years of experience in vegetable farming using traditional practices and about 8 years of experience using innovative technologies such as drip irrigation, which she learned from East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation (EWS-KT).
Because she was interested in learning new grafting techniques for vegetable plants in order to improve yields, Chhean began working with the EWS-KT team in the Grow Against the Flow project in September 2020.
In collaboration with EWS-KT staff, Chhean agreed to set up a small plot of grafted tomato plants using eggplant as a rootstock, alongside the non-grafted plants in her field. She learned more and more about grafting techniques, as well as land preparation and crop management, such as raising beds, plastic mulching, trellising, water management, plant nutrition and fertigation (applying fertiliser through the irrigation system), and crop rotation as part of integrated pest and disease management practices.
It was challenging for her to start the demonstration plot because she needed to follow all the advice from EWS-KT technical staff and it was her ﬁrst time practising these techniques, but she remained committed to seeing the results of her investment.
Her hard work paid off, and she achieved the higher yield and better proﬁt she was seeking. Her 390-square-metre plot of grafted tomato plants produced 1,196 kilograms of tomatoes, with gross income of 1,622,700 riels (US$399). After expenses of 268,700 riels ($US66), her net proﬁt was 1,354,000 riels ($US333) for just one crop cycle.
Delighted with these results, and feeling more confident in her grafting skills, she plans to increase the plot size to around 1,000 square metres, with year-round production using grafting techniques for 40% of the tomato plants and non-grafting techniques for 60%. She has plans to increase the production plots for grafting soon, rotating tomatoes with cucumbers, yardlong beans, and watermelons. Chhean is grateful to EWS-KT for training her, and she is determined to continue to apply the techniques she has learned.
Because of her success with grafting and new agricultural management techniques, the neighbouring farmers visit her farm to ask her for advice. She is always happy to share her knowledge and experience, as she wants to see her area produce safe vegetables to support the vegetable market and its customers.
Grow Against the Flow enables smallholder farmers in Cambodia and Lao PDR to increase safe, year-round vegetable production by teaching them techniques for growing and harvesting vegetables in difficult climatic conditions. Cultivating crops in the traditional off-season makes nutrient-rich food consistently available to consumers and raises the income of farmers. This project is co-funded and led by the World Vegetable Center in collaboration with EWS-KT, Lao PDR Department of Agriculture, and iDE.