How to start a tomato business in Nigeria (Complete guide)
Do you know that Nigerians consume over 300, 000 ton of tomato paste? Which when converted it’s 1.5 million tons of fresh tomato.
Call it crazy if you like.
That’s not all. Nigeria stands as the Africa’s biggest importer of tomato paste with almost 16 billion annually spend for the importation.
With more indigenous companies joining the tomato and paste business, the demand for the fresh tomato will increase. The tomato production in Nigeria is potentially worth a 100 billion naira industry.
This makes the business opportunity in tomato farming in Nigeria is huge.
Tomato farming business in Nigeria has been around for a long time in Nigeria.
Some grow it in their backyard and only a few engage in commercial tomato farming in Nigeria. It goes with virtually every type of food cook here in Nigeria.
With over 90% of households using tomato as major ingredients in their cooking, the tomato farming business in Nigeria is worth looking at.
Starting a tomato farming business is a lucrative venture to embark. Many have made quite a fortune from the business.
Tomato business in Nigeria is one of the businesses that one can start with little capital.
If you’re interested in starting tomato farming in Nigeria? Then this article will show you the enormous opportunities in the tomato farming business in Nigeria.
Ways of starting tomato farming business in Nigeria
The tomato farming business is a four-way one. What I mean is there is two entry point to the business. So you have the option to choose from any of it.
- Cultivating and selling the tomatoes
- Buying the tomatoes and sell them too (especially to households, hotels etc)
- Dried tomato business. Here you can start the business to sell dried tomatoes in the period where fresh tomato becomes expensive. Click here to learn more about how to start dried tomato business.
- Tomato paste production. Where tomatoes are packaged and sold to people in a fresh manner.
Cultivating (Starting your tomato farming business)
Tomato farming begins by taking some important steps to play. You have to adhere to the rules of cultivating to stand the chance of making your tomato farming business in Nigeria a lucrative one.
If you decide to start here, you’ll need a farm to start. The following steps show you how to go about it.
This is a place where the plant will be planted and grow. On your business goals, acquire land that meets your demand today and the future. Make sure it’s in an area where it will be suitable for the growth of the tomatoes.
If you’re using your backyard, make sure the soul is the one that will encourage growth. A sunny well-drained part of your garden is the best soil for tomatoes
2. Prepare your land
Start preparing your land by weeding the grasses and making soil bed. Use organic fertilizer to work the land with it. Provide good water supply system and water the land for some days.
Make sure the PH level is around 6.0 to 6.8. PH is the measure of the soil acidity or alkalinity.
You may want to include greenhouse tomato farming business. These makes it easier for you to target the farming season all year round.
3. Acquire and plant your tomato
The tomato seed comes in a sealed sachet with all the instruction on it. If you don’t understand anything, you can ask the person who an expert. Normally you can get the seedling in any of the ministries of agriculture closer to you and you’ll get the expert support there.
The tomato seed is started indoor, whether it’s meant for the greenhouse. This is because the tomato seed needs at least 60 degrees and 80 degrees for the seed to germinate.
This is because it’s a tropical plant and any temperature below 32 degrees Fahrenheit kills the plan or makes germination impossible.
The seed is planted using in a nursery. Normally, the planting period mostly favorable for tomato is around March or April, when there are heat and the rain has started falling.
The nursery will require at least 4 hours of exposure to sunlight to encourage the seed germination.
4. Acquire knowledge
You’ll need some knowledge about the farming methods. Sometimes you’ll need to hear it from those who are in the field doing it. Search and read also from the internet, anything you can get your hands on related to tomatoes read it.
5. Tomato farming varieties
To grow the tomato, you need to know the tomato farming varieties. Here are some of the varieties.
Cherry tomatoes-Great for making salads and snacking on a whole. They are the first to mature because the fruit is small.
Beefsteak tomatoes-One of the biggest tomato out there and with a great flavor. This type people sometimes take it as apple and best use in making sandwiches.
Sauce tomatoes- Has lower water content. Best use for making spaghetti sauce.
Sauce tomatoes (Roma)- The most popular one in the marketplace in Nigeria. This has a long shelf live because of the lower water content. Majority start there tomato farming in Nigeria with sauce tomatoes.
6. Transplanting your tomato
Your tomato is ready for transplanting when they’re 3 to 4 inches tall in the nursery. For the transplanting to take place effectively, you will need to do the transplanting at about 50-degree temperature.
This time is consistent at night. When you’re not sure of the temperature, then consult an expert to help you.
There are about four steps to do before you complete the transplanting.
- Dig a hole in your tomato bed. Make it deeper than the length of the nursery bed. You have to strive not to over crowd your tomato. You’ll need that space for it to grow well and avoid the risk of disease spread.
- Remove each of the tomato plants from the nursery bed and loosen the root gently.
- Plant your tomato in the hole you just dig in the tomato bed.
- Tamp the soil to close the root leaving only the leaves above the soil. Then give your first watering.
7. Growing your tomato farming business
the length of time between tomato seed germination and harvest varies with the type being grown. But the average is between 65-90 days. Before reaching the harvest time, it’s important to note the following in other to attain maximum growth.
- Make sure tomatoes are planted where they’ll get at least 10 hours of light preferably in the summer. Leave space between tomatoes for air to freely circulate.
- Try rotating a little the tomato bed to prevent the risk of soil burn diseases like bacterial and early bright.
- Water deeply on the soil not on the leaves. Do this every 5-7 days.
- Remove non-fruit branches. This directs the tomato plants energy into growing bigger and better.
- Plant your tomato at intervals. This will ensure that not all of your harvest will come at once.
8. Controlling your production
One major problem having an open tomato farm is it can be affected by the weather. For instance, in a hot season when the tomato is yielding more tomatoes, rain will slow the production and it will take time for the tomato to readjust itself.
I’ve to notice this problem have been around for a long time. Only a few farmers have decided to do something about it.
Hence, the need to control your production and one way of doing it is by building a greenhouse. A greenhouse is a building where plants are grown. It comes in different sizes from small to a large sized building.
In a greenhouse tomato plants are out of the rain, also, the temperature won’t drop so low at night. The greenhouse also shades tomatoes from direct sunlight and diffused the sunlight and provides the warm that enables the plant to feed regularly. In low temperature, nutrients are unable to be absorbed.
Other advantages of using greenhouse include:
o Longer shelf life
o Great tasting sweet juicy flavor
o Firm shape
o Higher yield
o Longer growing season
o Energy efficiency requires less water to grow out fruit
o Disease tolerance.
The reason for a greenhouse is to have crops at the time of the year when they can’t be grown.
Including greenhouse in your tomato farming business goes a long way and your production will always be in season. while other farmers are lamenting, you’ll be smiling.
Installing an 8m by 24m per unit greenhouse with drip irrigation system creates all season production of high-quality tomato.
When going into commercial tomato farming in Nigeria, using a greenhouse is a must. Because you always have the products available
Another advantage of the greenhouse, it helps growing of the tomato in areas where the temperature is not always favorable for tomato farming.
Creating a greenhouse
I have been asked many times about how to create a greenhouse. Well, it’s simple. Here are the simple steps I think will help.
- Create a frame for the greenhouse. The majority of greenhouse come in 8m to 24m per unit. Your frame can be in curve shape or semi box.
- Find the greenhouse leather. This leather is not just an ordinary white leather. It’s UV treated ho help conserve the temperature. You can visit any leather factory to know how they charge for it.
- Take your frame to your farm and place it. Remember your tomato farm has some bed, it’s important to create each bed with its own greenhouse.
- Then using your UV treated leather, place it on the frame. Make sure it covers the entire bed. With a small opening, you can use to enter.
- Another method is to build a four corner frame and make some glasses as the covering that will also do.
This is just a brief on how to create a greenhouse.
9. Selling your tomatoes
You can start selling your tomato from the day you start harvesting it. Remember tomatoes are perishable things. Then starting your marketing should be done before the date of the intended sales.
There are various ways people sell their tomatoes, but the most popular are using a basket and the basket comes in various sizes.
However, to make your tomato farming business stand out, you should create an excellent way to package your product that will equally advertise your business.
10. Buying and selling
Maybe you don’t want to start the business from the stage of tomato farming. You can still do the business.
In fact majority of the people who start the tomato, business goes in and buy from the farmers in bulk and sell it to people who buy in small to a large quantity.
The future of tomato farming business in Nigeria
The future of tomato farming is bright. This is evident in the fact that the need for fresh tomato is increasing as are businesses are starting their tomato paste production and dried tomato businesses.
With the government still bringing in policies to encourage more tomato farming so as to reduce the money spent on importing tomato paste is another sign that priority is been given to the industry. The few that will embrace it now will be the key players in the near future.
Challenges of tomato farming business
Tomato farming business has its own challenges. The following will help you.
- Greenhouse materials are quite expensive. The greenhouse fabric must be UV treated which also adds to the expenses
- The land for growing the tomatoes should be within the major PH value.
- It requires lots of water for the business.
- Getting the right tomato variety might be difficult. With lots of variety in the market, you may need the services of an expert to know the best one that can give you the maximum yield and return on investment.
Tomato farming in Nigeria will continue to evolve and the market will continue to be available whether your tomato farming business is on a small scale or big scale.
You just have to ensure that you follow the best tomato farming practice to be able to succeed.