If you think tomato has a special place it grows, try loosening up the soil in your backyard and pour tomato seeds on the soil. Then watch what happens after one week. Tomato farming in Nigeria has remained a very confusing topic among Nigerian farmers. ‘Confusing’ in the sense that no matter the amount that is produced in the country, the demand seems to overshadow the supply. Tomato continues to remain one of the crops Nigeria still imports to have enough quantity to go round.
Tomato farming business is a very lucrative and opportunity-presenting business in Nigeria; Thanks to the fact that every blessed day, people consume foods that has tomato as one of its ingredients and it doesn’t end there: Just last year, Nigeria had to import 67,491 tonnes of processed tomato that is worth well over N11 billion. Yes, you read that right! N11 billion going out to other countries for an agricultural product unsurprisingly, since it has been discovered that Tomato alone takes around N100 billion from Nigerians annually… and you wonder why the richest man in Nigeria and most prolific businessman in Africa recently opened a Tomato processing plant in Kano?
Tomato Farming in Nigeria: Overview
This post is a sort of a ‘How to Start’ guide to help you start-up your own Tomato farming business and to your own quota, reduce the money spent on importation of this very plant that grows in abundance in various parts of the country. Tomato is an agricultural product that doesn’t need an over-emphasized introduction. It markets itself and what’s more, it takes just three months after planting to harvest.
Tomato farming is a versatile type that can be done on practically almost every kind of Nigerian soil but the best type for it, especially if you’re looking to go commercial is black loose loamy soil. Tomato farming business particularly thrives in the north; especially areas like Kano because there are irrigation systems easily set-up to keep the farm watered and pleasant for the Tomato plant.
To start your Tomato farming business, it is important you select one the best species to plant as it would mean an early step in the right direction. The Roma specie is one of the best to start with. The Roma or Italian tomato specie is always recommended, as it is known for its size, redness, and plumpness. It also has a hard back and low water content, which in turn increases its shelf-life. This specie is guaranteed to give you high yield when it’s harvesting period.
Tomato Farming: Required Facilities
Suitable Land: You might not get a large piece of land, having black loamy soil in a commercial area like Lagos, and even if you do get, it might not be affordable. But back in the villages, and developing towns, there are lands that are either naturally suitable or can be made suitable through irrigation.
Irrigation Channel: Even though Tomatoes can grow on almost any kind of land, dry lands are not particularly the best seat choice for it. If the land is not loose enough, you need to add irrigation cost to your capital/budget. You can simply hire the services of someone that’ll irrigate the land for you.
Tomato seeds: The healthier the seed, the better for you; as it means the more you have to harvest when the period comes.
Tomato Nursery: Tomato does well when first planted in a Nursery for one month before being transplanted to the main open farm. The aim of this is so the plant can have a good start to life, away from birds and insects. A nursery can also be called Protective Breeding.
Fertilizer: This is specifically mentioned because it is important to weed your farm, two months after the transplant and after weeding, it is imperative you replenish the soil nutrient taken off by the weeds by carefully using fertilizer.
Knowledge: You can decide to attach yourself to a Tomato farm if you want to gain first-hand practical knowledge but you also decide not to, and download verified instructional materials online. Tomato farming is not geo-physics.
Tomato Farming: Feasibility Study
The feasibility study included in this guide is for a Tomato farm after one farming year.
Cost of the plot of land, cost of loosening the soil, cost of irrigation channelling, cost of planting seed purchase, cost of nursery set-up, cost of fertilizer, cost of transporting the harvest from the farm to the market, workmanship, additional costs and expenses, all approximated to N3,000,000
If on the starting scale, the farm produces at least 850 baskets of tomato and each basket sells for N4,500 but during harvest and transportation 15 baskets were lost, leaving 835 baskets. The calculation is as follows:
835 baskets X N4,500 = N3,757,500
At the end of the year, N3,757,500 – N3,000,000 = N757,000
That’s quite a sum to show at the end of the year, after start-up capital has been covered. It is also important to note that Tomato thrives in the raining season and the harvest is in batches; which means that if you plant by April, you can plan towards June/July for harvest and it goes on weekly all season long till November/December when the plant can’t stand the scorching heat.
Tomato Farming: Risks Involved
- The biggest threats to a Tomato farm are birds, insects, rodents, and pests. You can plant scarecrows to scare birds away or device other techniques that’ll ensure the safety of your plants.
- Weeds are also threats to the innocent Tomato plants as they zap all the soil nutrients, leaving you with a starved, unmarketable plant to harvest.
- Also forgetting to select a high-yield variety to plant, like the Roma specie can also mean starting off on the wrong foot.
- It requires a huge capital to start-up (for maximum profit) and if anything should go wrong, it might be catastrophic.
Tomato Farming: Advantages
- Tomato farming firstly removes you from the contributors of the N11 billion spent on tomato since it is only logical that you provide for your domestic needs from your farm.
- From planting to harvesting of the Tomato takes just three months, which means you don’t have to wait for what would seem like forever to start reaping the fruit of your labour.
- Tomato farming doesn’t require any form of background training or expertise, as all it takes to make the desired returns is the interest and the effort.
- Demand is always constant and all you need do is to create awareness in local markets around you and you’re good to go.
- The short yield time also means you can pay back quickly, if your capital was borrowed.
- Aside the money involved, your Tomato farm can grow so large, you not only leave the job search market; you become an employer of labour.