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As discussed in some of our previous notes, drip irrigation is a form of irrigation which involves the wetting of the root zone of plants by using a set of pipes with emitters. It is very efficient as it saves water, nutrients and labour.

With drip irrigation, farmers record good yields with lesser inputs. Drip irrigation in Nigeria is a relatively new way of passing water to crops.

Tomato farming is very popular in Nigeria. Every household eats tomatoes directly or indirectly every day.

A tomato Farmer (Mr Samuel Haruna) based in Jos farms one acre of tomato every year. He has been a tomato Farmer for over 20 years.

Mr. Haruna cultivates tomato from July to October every year because he relies on rainfall for irrigation. His best yield before adoption of drip irrigation system was 4 tonnes per acre. He hardly makes a profit of N200,000 yearly.

He was used to planting open pollinated tomato variety.

Mr. Haruna was about giving up on tomato production when he heard about drip irrigation. There was skepticism but at last, he adopted this efficiency driven irrigation system and other good agronomical practices, three months after, he recorded incredible yield and profit from his one acre tomato farm.

What did this Farmer do differently to achieve good yield and profit?

Mr. Haruna got adequate training. He had to unlearn and re-learn new farming methods.

The Farmer got drip irrigation system on his one acre tomato farm, this made him to farm all year round. He turned to a brain fed farmer instead of a rain-fed farmer.

The Farmer did a soil test and got a computation of daily nutrients to apply to his tomato plants every day till harvest based on the result of the soil test.

The Farmer planted only hybrid tomato seeds tolerant to heat, bacteria wilt and viral diseases. He used Nursery trays to nurse his tomato seedlings. Hitherto, he planted only open pollinated tomato varieties.

The drip irrigation enabled the farmer to fertigate daily till the last days of harvest. Fertigation is the application of soluble fertiliser to plants through drip irrigation system. Venturi Injector or dosing pump are used to suck the nutrients solution and passed to to the drip tapes.

In the case of this farmer, he used venture injector for fertigation.  In the past, the farmer used only granule fertiliser which he applied by side dressing. With drip irrigation, he used high quality soluble fertiliser like Potassium Nitrate, calcium Nitrate, Monopotassium Phosphate, humates (Humic Acid and Fluvic Acid), microbial inoculants and Nutrient solution pH regulators. These fertilizers were applied in small doses to his tomato plants daily.

The farmer also used the drip irrigation system to treat his soil before transplanting the tomato seedlings. Microbial inoculants, Neem Oil and disperser and Fluvic Acid were passed through the drip irrigation system to the soil to kill harmful microbes and decontaminate the soil.

High value pesticides (bothe organic and inorganic) were used. Mr Haruna was able to prevent Tuta Absoluta on his Tomato Farm. Recall, Tuta Absoluta wrecked a lot of tomato farms in Nigeria in the past two years. This Farmer was able to prevent and control this pest on his farm.

With drip irrigation system, the Farmer was able to plant tomato in Jos around Feb-May, when there was no rainfall. Most Farmers could not plant during this time. Every year, tomato prices skyrocket due to lean supply of tomatoes.

The Farmer was able to harvest and sell about 400 baskets of tomato (about 21 tonnes) from his one acre farm between May-June, he sold them at an average price of N25,000 each. The Farmer was able to make a sales of N10 million within 3-4 months of cultivating tomatoes.

The Farmer has never made N10 million in all his years of planting tomatoes, thanks to drip irrigation and other good agronomical practices.

Mr. Haruna is now planning to expand his farm by planting high value Beef tomato variety to be sold to supermarkets and hotels.

Farming has gone past the way of the old. Nothing compares to precision farming.

Are you interested in tomato farming or you want to improve your existing tomato farms? Do you want to install drip irrigation system on your farmland? if yes, kindly contact Veggie Grow Limited.

Ayo Akinfolarin

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