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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 March 2006, 14:37 GMT
Farmer quitting tomato business
Tomatoes
The family has grown tomatoes in the island for centuries
A Jersey farmer who is thought to be one of the last in the British Isles to farm outdoor tomatoes commercially is pulling out of the business.

The Le Maistre family has grown tomatoes outdoors in the island for hundreds of years.

But Peter Le Maistre says the decision had to be taken after problems with blight and disease.

He says his competitors can also grow much cheaper tomatoes, controlling climates using computers.

'Distinctive product'

"We took the decision after last season," he said.

"We've had two seasons where we've had problems with disease and the amount of pesticides and herbicides we can use on outdoor tomatoes has been drastically reduced."

Jerry Hayman, from the British Tomato Growers' Association, says costs are a major problem.

"It's simply a question of economics really. About 80% of tomatoes eaten in the country are imported and there's a fairly expensive stretch of water between here and the Channel Islands.

"It's a very distinctive product but it's a question of economics."


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