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France: Zero pesticide residue tomatoes grown in eco-greenhouses

Brothers, Davy and Vincent Clément, are aware of the sometimes excessive use of phytosanitary products in conventional farming, especially in tomatoes which are highly sensitive. They grow cherry and cocktail tomatoes without using chemical products. Their tomatoes are grown above ground, in greenhouses. Whilst they cannot be classed as “organic”, they are amongst the Paysans de Rougeline (agriculture cooperative group) producers who have chosen another option: zero pesticide residues.

Thanks to their eco-greenhouse, they can produce 1,200 tons of tomatoes over their 5.5 hectare farm. The greenhouse is essential for their project as it is energy efficient thanks to cutting edge Dutch technology that allows them to regulate the temperature to a tenth of a degree. They can also ventilate the greenhouse thanks to an air duct system that allows them to filter in outdoor air. This system also acts as a physical barrier to insects. Only useful insects, such as bumble bees for pollination are let into the greenhouse.

Since May, their tomatoes have been available in two large retail stores in Arles, and in the next few days will also be available in a hyper-market that has a partnership with Rougeline in Aix en Provence. Davy Clément explains that in large supermarkets “we are 30% more expensive that a normal tomato, whilst organic is 50% more expensive on average”. Vincent Clément thinks that consumers will be ready to pay the price for the product, “The root is very short, the way it is grown will not influence the taste. The taste, it is from the seed, the genetics. In soil, they need fertiliser, which pollutes the ground water. And, when grown in the soil in the same place, diseases tend to develop and the soil then needs to then be disinfected.”

Rougeline hopes that this method of farming will represent 30% of the French tomato market in 5 years time if, as of this year, 20,000 tons of “non-treated” tomatoes are put on the market.

Publication date: 5/18/2017


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