Tomato is a popular food commodity in Nigeria. Eaten by millions of Nigerians from different walks of life, tomato is used to prepare different meals, soups and stews. Due to the high demand for tomato, the tomato farming business in Nigeria is a very profitable one. Tomato is eaten everyday in many Nigerian homes without fail.
Tomato is also very rich in nutrients and an essential food ingredient. If you start tomato farming in Nigeria, a constant demand for your tomato is guaranteed. You could never run out of customers buying your tomato every day. So, how can you start tomato farming business in Nigeria? Here is the essential guide you need..
How to start tomato farming in Nigeria
Follow these steps to start tomato farming.
1. Do some research
The first step in ensuring the success of tomato farming in Nigeria is to engage in detailed research about tomato farming in Nigeria. Set up meetings with other tomato farmers and find out what works and what doesn’t.
Learn about what mistakes to avoid in tomato farming in Nigeria. Ask for the tomato farmers’ genuine opinions about the tomato farming business in Nigeria and draw necessary conclusions.
2. Write a business plan
Write out a detailed business plan for your tomato farming in Nigeria. A business plan is an official written document containing business goals, the methods on how these goals can be attained, and the time frame within which these goals need to be achieved. Outline your budget and capital needed to start your farming and return on investment.
3. Rent/lease/buy a piece of land
To start tomato farming in Nigeria, you have to rent, lease or buy a piece of land. This could be several plots, acres and hectares of land depending on your capital. Find an ideal site for your tomato farm. Make sure the land documents are verified if you are buying the land or leasing the land.
Also, ensure that you meet the landowner personally to avoid fraud. Hire a lawyer to ensure the proper documentation of land documents. There should be trouble-free transportation facilities available, in other to have an easy way to transport your tomatoes after harvesting.
Ensure that there are good roads leading to your tomato farm. More than a few state governments in Nigeria typically have incentive programs to encourage tomato farming in Nigeria. One of these incentives is the availability of land for tomato farming.
Make enquiries from the Ministry of Agriculture in your state about such land incentives and how you stand to benefit as a tomato farmer. You can also have negotiations with land owners in your state and have a joint venture agreement with them, where you plant tomatoes and farm on their land. Then, share profits with them. The advantage is that you don’t spend money on buying a piece of land.
4. Prepare the soil for planting
As a tomato farmer, it is very important to carefully choose a good soil for planting your tomato. This is because good soil will largely determine the type of tomato that will be harvested. This in turn will also determine the profit from your tomato farming business.
The soil should be preferably rich sandy loamy soil. This is because the best tomato is obtained from deep, well-drained sandy loamy soil. Make sure the soil is rich in organic matter. The soil should also be endowed with plant nutrients, with a pH value of 6 to 7.
The soil should be loose. You should till the ground and level it. Make sure all the weeds are cleared properly and ploughed for about one to three times to make it light weight. When you have an acidic soil, apply lime. Spray insecticides and fungicides.
5. Get the correct variety of tomato seed
The species of tomato seed you choose to plant should be any of the following varieties; Roma tomato, Cherry tomato, Beefsteak tomato, Plum tomato, Slicing or Globe tomato, Grapes tomato, Campari tomato, Tom berries tomato, Oxheart tomato, Pear tomato or Sauce tomato. However, the best tomato seed to plant is the Roma tomato. Roma tomato has little moisture content, deep red color and larger fruits.
The tomato seed you choose to plant will largely determine; the eventual growth of your tomato fruit, its resistance to diseases and the overall yield of your tomato after harvesting.
6. Plant your tomato seeds
The best time to start tomato farming in Nigeria is around March/April/May during the beginning of raining season. The tomato seeds should be planted in a nursery. . Prepare the nursery bed for 5 weeks.
The nursery provides a sufficient environment for the tomato seeds to germinate successfully. Use fertilizers with high content of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium. Plant it first in the nursery, then transplant later to the field.
Cover the tomato with a polyethylene sheet to prevent fungi and bacteria infestation. Make sure you apply organic manure and fertilizer before planting your tomato seeds. Place the tomatoes seeds on the soil. Cover the seeds with a quarter inch layer of soil. You may cover the soil with dry grasses so as to prevent loss of moisture.
After planting, you will see them growing in the next 5-7 days. Remove the dry grasses to allow for proper plant growth. Then, allow the plants grow for about one month or 5 weeks before transplanting to the field.
7. Harvest your tomato
Tomato grows very fast. Your tomatoes should be ready for harvesting after 3 months. Tomato is typically harvested in batches. When you harvest the first batch of tomatoes, you can harvest tomatoes continuously from your tomato farm. Do this till the plants die off in the dry season.
8. Sell your tomato
After harvesting your tomatoes, the next thing to do is to sell your tomatoes to prospective buyers. Tomato is a highly perishable crop. Processing or refrigerating your tomato is the only way to protect your tomatoes from spoilage. Therefore, you have to start looking for customers for your tomatoes before harvesting them. If you don’t sell your tomatoes immediately, you stand to lose all your investment in your tomato business.
The best way to avoid this is to make sure you find buyers before harvesting. Be a supplier to buyers immediately after harvesting. The demand for tomato is very high so it is not hard to find customers for your tomato produce.
If you decide to start tomato farming in Nigeria, you will most definitely get a high return on your investment. Sell your tomatoes to buyers or even tomato processing companies who make tomato paste and you’ll realize a lot of profit.