If you’re seeking information on tomato production in Nigeria, you’ve come to the right place. Tomato is a famous vegetable used in cooking soups, stews, salads and various cuisines. It is not just popular in Nigeria, but all over the world.
Tomato is rich in Vitamin C and beta-carotene, its redness makes it an excellent source of antioxidant agents and the presence of Vitamin E in the vegetable strengthens the health and aids sharpness of the eyes.
As far as health and nutrition is considered, tomato is a notable bigwig. Hence, if there’s an agribusiness venture you are thinking of, tomato farming is one to venture into. Tomato farming in Nigeria is very easy to start and doesn’t require much experience.
It would please you to note that tomatoes are in high demand in Nigeria. It is consumed by almost 200 million people with no chance of being enough, no matter the level of production.
Nigeria is unarguably the biggest importer of tomato paste in Africa and spends a staggering 16 billion Naira annually to import tomatoes. Hence, as Nigerians prepare for this year’s farming season, tomato farming in Nigeria is a potential business venture to explore.
In addition, the federal government is creating an enabling environment that benefits local tomato producers in a great way.
Starting Tomato Production in Nigeria
Growing tomatoes isn’t rocket science; anyone can do it. You can choose to grow your tomatoes in your backyard or in commercial quantities. In places like Kano, tomato can be grown all year round as a result of a special irrigation system specifically designed for it.
However, in other states of Nigeria, it is advisable you grow tomatoes during the rainy season. The following are factors to consider in achieving a profitable tomato production in Nigeria.
Step 1: Pick the Best Tomato Species
For farmers, the improved yield species is the best choice. The Roma variety is highly recommended. This is because the Roma tomato, also referred to as Italian tomatoes, is a plum sized tomato famous for its size and redness in the Nigerian markets.
It would be a waste of time to pick the local species. The Roma tomato can also be used for canning and production of tomato paste. Roma tomato also offers uniqueness deficient in other tomato species. Its hard back and low water content makes it easy to store for long after harvesting.
Step 2: Prepare the Nursery
Preparing the nursery is best done around March/April when the rain is just beginning to fall. Tomato adapts to most soil types in Nigeria, but grows very well in black loose loamy soil. Depending on your choice, you can prepare the nursery in your backyard or any piece of land.
To start, clear the land of grasses and rubble, and loosen the soil with hoes and hand trowels. Next, remove the seeds from the tomatoes and spread it on the soil.
Cover the seedlings with dry leaves or grasses (mulching) to prevent the loss off moisture from the soil and to prevent the seeds from fowls and birds that can eat it.
Within 5-7, days, you will see signs of germination. Exercise patience for an extra 5days before removing the grasses t aid proper growth. Leave it to grow for an additional one month before transplanting.
Step 3: Transplanting
This is the third and final journey for your tomato plant. If you are transplanting it to your garden, you might be able to do it yourself. However, if your farm is big and you can’t do the transplanting singly, you might need to hire laborers.
Please ensure that you treat the tomato plant with delicacy to prevent breakage.to achieve best results, it is advisable that you use your hands for transplanting.
To transplant, use a small piece of wood to nudge the soil open. Insert the seedling into the hole and cover with loose soil. To avoid dehydration and fatigue of your tomato plant, transplant it the same day you uproot it from the nursery.
Step 4: Weed and Apply Fertilizer
After two months of transplant, you need to weed the land to ensure these unwanted plants do not shorten the lifespan of your tomato plants. If you can’t do it alone, hire laborers and ensure you supervise them to make sure they do not damage your tomato plants while weeding.
To get a good harvest, tomatoes need nitrogen, potassium, calcium, potash and magnesium plus other trace minerals. Hence, you need to apply fertilizer to enrich the soil and achieve a successful tomato production in Nigeria. N-P-K ratio fertilizer is very good for tomatoes.
Step 6: Harvest Your Tomatoes
The first harvest begins three months after planting. This means if you planted during April, you should expect your first harvest by JUNE or July. Afterward, it will keep producing till the dry season (November/December), after which the plant will die as a result of extreme heat.
Step 7: Market Your Tomatoes
Before harvesting, you need to have properly prepared your marketing strategies. You should have been able to identify your target customers. Unless you have a built storage system, failure to do this will lead to loss since tomato is very perishable.
The major market for fresh tomatoes and other vegetable s in Lagos is Mile 12. Since 90% of vegetables consumed by Lagos inhabitants (a population of over 15million people who consume tomatoes on a daily basis) are brought in from the North, it’s not surprising that Mile 12 is dominated by Northerners.
If your farm is also close to neighboring towns and markets, you can also attract the attention of local market women. Never underestimate the power wielded by these women.
They might buy your tomatoes at a cheap price but they are fiercely loyal and supportive. To ensure a successful agribusiness in Nigeria including tomato production, you need to understand that mass market is the key.
It is better to sell 500 baskets of tomatoes a day for N1, 000 each than to sell 50 baskets a day for N2000 per basket.
The major principle of mass market is produce plenty, sell at a lesser amount and make more profits. It’s however saddening to see that most farmers or entrepreneurs do not see it that way.