A contract farmer in Indonesia discovers grafting, a simple but effective technique introduced by AVRDC to overcome soil-borne diseases in tomato fields.

Vegetable exporter FGI works with farmers in Bali, Indonesia to plant and produce high quality vegetables for clients in many countries. Planting varieties of tomato desired by customers in various countries, however, has proven to be an enormous challenge. Stems of the tomato plants frequently became black and the plants died, producing no harvest.

Suspecting a soil-borne disease to be cause, Ms. Fransiska, a Bangli district agricultural extension agent, encouraged FGI to try grafting to solve the problem. Fransiska learned about tomato grafting from a course conducted by AVRDC under the USAID-funded “Vegetables for Indonesia” project. Tomato grafted onto AVRDC eggplant rootstock EG-195 was shown to increase tomato tolerance to flooding and bacterial wilt in Bali. EG-195 is also known for its tolerance to Fusarium wilt, nematodes and possibly other soil-borne diseases. Fransiska linked FGI to a nurseryman in Denpasar, who was trained by the project to produce grafted tomato seedlings; he is currently the sole provider of the seedlings in Bali.

In August 2014 Ibu Dewi, one of FGI’s contract farmers in Baturiti district, planted 2000 grafted seedlings of various tomato varieties provided by FGI. By November 2014 she had harvested her tomato seven times, producing 600 kg of cherry tomatoes and 1200 kg of fresh tomatoes. FGI provided all inputs. Fresh tomatoes were priced at IDR 3,000/kg and the cherry tomatoes at IDR 5,000/kg. Dewi received a net income of IDR 6.6 million (USD 550) from her field. She expects to harvest four more times to yield about 500 kg of mixed cherry and fresh tomatoes. When asked how many times she harvested when she planted non-grafted tomato, Dewi said “Zero. The plants grew fine until the black color started developing on the stems, then they would die soon afterward.”

All tomato farmers contracted by FGI now plant grafted tomato. The technology solved the production problem faced by FGI and generated significant income for Dewi and other FGI contract farmers. Two neighboring farmers (not FGI contract farmers) are now planting grafted tomato in their fields after seeing Dewi’s success.

Contributor: Iin Luther, AVRDC