A clear tomato yield gap exists in Southern Africa. Understanding the economic crop
production factors is a necessary prelude to any discussion of ecological sustainability. The
objective of this study was to evaluate the economic factors that influence the sustainability of
open field tomato production. We compared detailed tomato production costs from six
international studies to data from the largest commercial tomato producer in South Africa.
The Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ) was used to demonstrate the interactions between
economic and agro-ecological constraints. Economic pressures are forcing tomato producers
to intensify production, which underscores the need for the continued development of
ecologically sustainable tomato production systems. The findings of this study will benefit
policy development in support of sustainable food security in the rural areas of Southern
Africa and beyond.