Tomato Processing Turns Losses into Gains for Yemen's Rural Women
“Learning how to process tomatoes into paste, sauce, and other products opened new horizons for me and has increased my income.” —Ms. Reem Mohamed Qaed, Tuban District, Lahj Governorate.
Just two years after attending the USAID Economic Recovery and Livelihoods Program's four-day tomato processing training in Tuban District, Lahj Governorate, 36-year-old Ms. Reem Mohamed Qaed has expanded her home kitchen business, increased profits, and can now afford to send her four children to school.
Encouraged by Fathieh, a food processing specialist in the local rural women’s development office of the Lahj Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Ms. Qaed joined 30 other women farmers at the development office's modern and fully-equipped food processing facility. There they watched practical demonstrations on how to preserve and dry tomatoes and make paste, sauce, and ketchup. They learned about cleanliness, equipment sterilization, hygiene, and food safety principles to meet food safety standards. The women also learned how to store, label, brand, and market their tomato products.
Using these skills, Ms. Qaed has since added new products to her offerings of fried potatoes and samosas. Increased sales have allowed her to expand her shop and help her husband with their children’s school fees and other household expenses.
“When Fathieh came to me and said this training would improve my life, I decided to try it,” said Ms. Qaed. “And she was right! I sell to people in my neighborhood and students. Now we can afford to send our children to school. I can’t read or write, but now I have started to learn with them.”
Tomato processing significantly raises incomes.
It reduces crop loss during seasonal gluts when tomato prices drop, leaving farmers unable to afford farm-to-market transport and resulting in tomatoes going unharvested. With USAID's range of agriculture/agribusiness product processing support and training, former post-harvest losses have been turned into gains that generate extra income for rural women and improves their lives.