Tomato farming in 2021 (The Ultimate Guide)

Tomato farming is the cultivation of tomato for the production of tomato fruits. The cultivation of tomato can be profitable if done in the right way.

Tomato farming can be done in the open field, pots, greenhouses, gardens and containers.

Tomato plants’ fruits are harvested after 60 – 90 days depending on variety. Tomato seedlings are usually managed in nurseries for 3 – 4 weeks.

Tomato Farming – All You Need to Know

Tomato farming has been a money spinner for ages due to the fact that almost everybody eats the vegetable.

From Nigeria to Ghana, The United Kingdom to Japan, Ondo to Zaria, Aba to Lokoja and Lagos to Abuja, tomato is a produce that can turn you to a millionaire in no time if you follow all the necessary protocols while farming it.

In Nigeria, tomato farming is predominantly done in the northern part of the country. Most states in the north like Kano, Jigawa, Plateau, Benue, Kaduna, Gombe, Bauchi, Sokoto, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Zamfara and Kogi have huge tomato plantations.

Tomato farming is also done in the southern part of Nigeria. Today, a lot of people even cultivate tomato in Lagos state, hitherto Lagos was not known as a tomato growing area.

It is a fact that over 80% of tomato farmers in Nigeria still cultivate tomatoes in the old and outdated ways. This has made the average yield of tomatoes in Nigeria to be about 2 tonnes.

tomato farming

In countries like Netherland and Israel, yields of tomato can be up to 100 tonnes per hectare. Those using greenhouses in Netherland and some other countries have achieved yields of up to 400 tonnes per hectare of tomato.

Most of the harvested fresh tomatoes in Nigeria also rot away because of lack of storage facilities.

Nigeria hardly processes its fresh tomatoes to paste; however, things are gradually changing with the advent of Dangote Tomato paste plant in Kano. Other tomato paste plants like Tomato Jos are also springing up.

Tomato Farming Business Plan

FARM SET-UP FOR A ONE HECTARE TOMATO FARM

Cost of Drip Irrigation          625,000.00
Installation of Drip Irrigation System
On Site Training of staff in precision farming
Soil and Water Analysis
          625,000.00
Fertilisers:
NPK (15 bags)            90,000.00
Potassium Nitrate (5 bags)            75,000.00
Camag (3 bags)            30,000.00
Potassium Humate              5,000.00
          200,000.00
Pesticides:
Insecticides (15 bottles)            30,000.00
Fungicides            30,000.00
Nematicides            10,000.00
            60,000.00

PROFIT ANALYSIS FOR A ONE HECTARE TOMATO FARM- SCENERIO 1

Revenue:
500 big baskets @ N15,000       7,500,000.00
Cost:
Rent of one hectare of farmland            25,000.00
Fertiliser          200,000.00
Manure            50,000.00
Pesticides            70,000.00
Hybrid Seeds          120,000.00
Labour for 6 months          240,000.00
Knapsack Sprayer              5,000.00
Farm Tools            10,000.00
          720,000.00
Profit       6,780,000.00

PROFIT ANALYSIS FOR A ONE HECTARE TOMATO FARM - SCENERIO 2

Revenue:
500 big baskets @ N10,000       5,000,000.00
Cost:
Rent of one hectare of farmland            25,000.00
Fertiliser          200,000.00
Manure            50,000.00
Pesticides            70,000.00
Hybrid Seeds          120,000.00
Labour for 6 months          240,000.00
Knapsack Sprayer              5,000.00
Farm Tools            10,000.00
          720,000.00
Profit       4,280,000.00

PROFIT ANALYSIS FOR A ONE HECTARE TOMATO FARM - SCENERIO 3

Revenue:
500 big baskets @ N4,000       2,000,000.00
Cost:
Rent of one hectare of farmland            25,000.00
Fertiliser          200,000.00
Manure            50,000.00
Pesticides            70,000.00
Hybrid Seeds          120,000.00
Labour for 6 months          240,000.00
Knapsack Sprayer              5,000.00
Farm Tools            10,000.00
          720,000.00
Profit       1,280,000.00

Notes/Assumptions

The profit analyses above were done using three scenarios (best case, mid case and worst case).

Drip Irrigation: The cost of drip irrigation system per hectare is assumed to be N625,000. Please note that the cost of drip irrigation systems varies according to quality and their parameters.

You can get your drip irrigation system from us.

drip irrigation for tomato farming

Fertilizers: In the business plan, the total cost of fertilizer is assumed to be N200,000 per hectare. This cost can change according to your soil test results and your nutrients needs.

If your soil is poor in nutrients, you will need to spend more on fertilizers but if your soil is rich in nutrients, you may not spend up to the assumed N200,000.

Pesticides: The computation assumes that N70,000 will be spent on all the pesticides that will be used for a one hectare tomato farm.

Pesticides may include insecticides, acaricides, nematicides, fungicides and bactericides etc. The cost to spend on pesticides may increase or decrease according to the level of disease and pest infestation.

Sales Revenue: There is always a peak and off peak time in the price cycle of tomatoes in Nigeria.  The price of tomato at some certain months in Nigeria can spike by as much as 300 – 500%.

The spike in tomato prices occurs every year in Nigeria. The peak season of prices of tomato in Nigeria is usually April – July (wet season). During this time, the price of a 50-60kg basket of tomatoes can go as high as N20,000 – N30,000.

During the low price time of September – February, the price of a 50-60kg basket of fresh tomatoes can go as low as N5,000.

It is assumed in this computation that a tomato farmer will harvest up to 500 baskets of tomatoes every year. This comes down to about 25 tonnes per hectare.

Please note that you can harvest up to 50-60 tonnes per hectare if you implement sound agronomic practices.

Manure: Most of the soil in Nigeria and indeed Africa is poor in nutrients and organic matter. We have assumed in this computation that N5,000 will be needed as the cost of manure.

Manure increases the cation exchange capacity of the soil, adds nutrients to the soil and improves the structure of the soil for better water retention and increased microbial activities.

In some areas, manure can be taken from farms at no cost.

Hybrid Seeds: This computation assumes that the cost of hybrid tomato seeds for one hectare of tomato farm is N120,000.

The computation assumes that hybrid seeds will be used instead of open pollinated seeds. Hybrid seeds have better pests and diseases tolerance and also better yield.

Cost of Labour: The tomato farming business plan assumes that the cost of labour is N240,000 per hectare.

Please note that this cost of labour is dependent on a lot of factors. Your location can have an impact on the cost of labour. Also, the level of mechanization on your farm can have an effect on the cost of labour.

Knapsack Sprayer: A knapsack sprayer costs N5,000 in Lagos while the cost of a motorized sprayer is N150,000. This cost can vary as per location.

Source: Veggie Concept

knapsack sprayer

Farm Tools: N10,000 is assumed to be the cost of farm tools in this tomato farming business plan.

farm tool for tomato growing

Steps to take to be successful in tomato farming and how to start a tomato farm

steps in tomato farming

Below are some of the steps to be successful in tomato farming or what to do to start a tomato farm or:

Passion and Skills

The interest in farming in the last 5 years increased tremendously due to the lull in crude oil market and the aggressive agriculture focused campaign of the government. The rate of youth unemployment has also lured a lot of young people to farming.

It is advisable you undergo training in tomato farming before you start your farm. You may decide to attend reputable agricultural institute for training, please avoid attending institutes that will teach you only the theoretical aspect of farming.

Undergoing internship in a good tomato farm is also not a bad idea. Look around for tomato farms with a good operational set-up, approach them and ask that you want to understudy their operations. Some farms may ask you to pay for them to train you.

You can also learn some tricks about tomato farming on the internet. YouTube videos are very educative; there are also other valuable documents on tomato farming on the internet. The disadvantage of this option is that you will not physically see how tomato is cultivated.

Employing personnel skilled in tomato farming is also a way you can get your tomato farm started without hiccups. Avoid employing people with big paper qualifications in Agriculture without the necessary experience.

I have seen an experienced English graduate before who was teaching Masters Degrees holder in Agronomy how tomato farming should be done. Experience is key not big qualifications.

Farm Location

Since you are done with training and employing good hands, now is the time to get a location for your farm. Do you want to farm in the southern or northern part of Nigeria?

Do you want to do urban farming or rural farming? All these options have their own merits and demerits.

Getting a farmland with a flat topography is good, also make sure that the road leading to your farm is good, this will help in seamless evacuation of your produce.

Farmland can be rented or leased; you may also acquire the farmland. You should consider your cash outflow when you want to decide either to buy or lease.Get a Free 5-day Course on How to Make Money from Precision Farming/Agribusiness

Recruitment of staff

You need to employ people who are skilled in farming. Poaching staff from existing farm is not a bad idea; also you may ask agricultural training institutes to recommend people to you for employment.

You should be very careful in recruiting uneducated farm hands, they have poor attitude to work and their attrition rate is quite high.

Your members of staff can make or mar your farm. It is very important to get this process right. There are a number of recruitment agencies in Nigeria who recruit workers for farms.

Water and Power

If your farmland does not have a ready source of water, you may need to drill a borehole or well, you can also create a mini reservoir to harvest and store rain water.

Rain fed farming is outdated, you need to farm all year round, with a functional source of water, you can farm tomatoes all year round. Year round farming with smart technologies like drip irrigation is called brain fed farming; this is the way to go.

Soil Preparation

Soil preparation is essential in tomato farming.

The farmland has to be deforested if it has a lot forest trees, stumps and weeds.

Ploughing has to be done, followed by harrowing, then, ridging.

Beds or ridges are essential in tomato farming, though not necessary.

A rototiller can be used for tilling of the soil.

For those who practice no till farming, tilling may not be done.

Manure or compost can be spread on the soil before ploughing. Manure and compost can improve the structure, nutrients and microbial composition of the soil.

For soil that is too acidic, limestone or dolomite can be spread on the soil to improve the pH.

For soil infected with diseases and pests like bacteria wilt, solarisation may be used to eradicate these pests and diseases.

Soil and Water Analysis

Going to farm without doing the complete analysis of the soil and water is like going to an exam hall without anything in your brain. A good soil test will show you the levels of nutrients in the soil, pH of the soil and the microbial count in the soil.

Some soil tests can show you if the soil is infected with diseases like bacterial wilt. Bacterial wilt can wreck your tomato farm within days.

The result of the soil test will point you to the type of fertiliser or manure to apply to your soil to get good yield. If your soil has diseases or pest like nematode, you will need to apply the necessary solution to these problems.

Water test will show you the pH of the water and the nutrients like calcium in the water.

Seed selection

tomato seeds

Planting untreated seeds can introduce harmful microbes to your soil and cause a whole lot of problems. Some types of soil infections can persist for years.

In buying any tomato seeds, you should know if you buying cherry tomato seeds, Roma tomato seeds or beefstake tomato seeds.

You must insist on buying good seeds from reputable sellers. Do you want to plant open pollinated seeds or hybrid seeds? Hybrid seeds in most cases have better yields and disease tolerances.

There are different types of hybrid seeds like Cobra F1, Platinum F1, Tylka F1 and Padma F1 etc.

You also need to plant the type of tomatoes eaten in Nigeria. Planting varieties of tomatoes not favoured in Nigeria may lead to rejection at the point of sales.

Seeds with tolerances to diseases prevalent in your location should be planted. Some seeds are also better in different season. You must take note of all these facts.

Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation remains the best type of irrigation for tomato farming. Tomato plants do not like water on their leaves; this may increase the chances of getting foliar infections that may ruin the plants.

Drip irrigation is the controlled passing of water to the roots of plants. Drip irrigation lines are tubes or pipes with emitters, the emitters pass water to plants in a trickle form. Some emitters can emit 1-8 litres of water per hour depending on the type you buy.

Drip irrigation can save up to 80% water as compared to flood irrigation. It can be used to pass fertiliser and chemicals to plants, with drip irrigation, 30% of fertiliser can be saved.

Drip irrigation has shown to increase yield by up to 30%, in some cases up to 200% if combined with fertigation and chemigation.

The efficiency of drip irrigation can be compared to that of water drips used by medical doctors. A medical doctor will prefer to pass water to the veins of a dehydrated person instead of pouring water on his head.

The veins are like the roots of the plants. Plants use water more efficiently through their veins than when you pour water on their leaves. Pouring water on the leaves of the plants also encourages fungal diseases and insects infestation.

Labour efficiency using drip irrigation is great. Imagine that you have to side dress urea fertiliser to your one hectare of tomato plants; you will need several labourers to do this with the attendant cost.

With drip irrigation and venture injector, you can mix the urea fertiliser in water and pass it through the drip irrigation system. The system drops the fertiliser to the base of every tomato plant. This is just plug and play.

The excuse that drip irrigation is expensive is unfounded; you can now get cheap drip irrigation system in Nigeria.

Using drip irrigation is very beneficial and if you cultivate your tomatoes in the right way, you can recoup the cost of your drip irrigation system within a season.

Nursery

tomato seedlings in nursery

You will need to create a nursery for your tomato seedlings. Using seeds tray with a sterile substrate is the best, though soil based nursery has been successful for years.

For tomato seeds to germinate, the temperature must be above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  In Nigeria, seedlings can be started outdoors as the temperature is warm.

With a nursery tray and a sterile substrate like coco coir, vermiculite and peat moss etc., you are sure that you are starting your nursery on a clean note.

Just put the seeds in the nursery tray, wet every day and use light nutrients. A shade must be provided for the nursery. Shade nets are the best, you may also use palm fronds.

Seedlings should be hardened before being transplanted. Poor aeration and darkness can cause damping off in seedlings.

Transplanting

After hardening off of tomato seedlings, the seedlings should be transplanted to the field.

Transplanting should be done in the morning or evening. Do not transplant in the hot afternoon.

It is always advised to transplant when it is cool.

Fertiliser/Humate/Manure Selection

fertilizer for tomato farming

One of the greatest mistakes of tomato farmers in Nigeria is to blindly rely on NPK and urea alone. There are several types of fertilisers.

You should apply fertilisers according to the result of your soil test. Types of fertilisers used for tomato farming include Mono Ammonium Phosphate, Potassium Nitrate, Calcium Nitrate, Chelates, Potassium Sulfate and foliar fertiliser etc.

Humates can be used to repair the soil and to make fertilisers more effective. Humates like humic acid and fluvic acid are important natural fertilisers that can do wonder to your tomato plants.

Fluvic Acid can be used to decontaminate your soil. It has been shown that high doses of fluvic acid can resolve nematode problem in your soil.

Manure should be used to improve your soil. Well aged chicken manure is very potent to increase the cation exchange capacity and nutrients of the soil. Compost is also very good.

Some innoculants containing beneficial microbes are also very good to improve the soil. They are capable of competing and killing the bad microbes in the soil.

Some beneficial microbes can attach to the roots of the plants, increase the root mass by 100 times. Large roots will extract more water and nutrients from the soil; this will lead to increase in yield.

Some of the beneficial microbes are sold in Nigeria; they can also break up the soil, aerate the soil and allow more oxygen to get to the roots of the plants.

If you are using drip irrigation, the fertilisers, bio-fertilisers and humates can be passed to the crops through the drip irrigation system.

manure for tomato farming

Pesticides Selection

Should i use pure organic pesticides or inorganic pesticides? Both have their own advantages and disadvantages.

You need pesticides to kill harmful pests and prevent or cure diseases.

If you decide to be organic, you may use neem oil, black soap, fermented cow urine and ghost pepper mixed with water to spray your tomato plants, this can help to prevent diseases, it can also kill harmful pests.

Bio-pesticides containing antagonistic microbes can be used to kill harmful insects and prevent fungal and other diseases.

These microbes take over the surfaces of leaves and stem, in this process they prevent the ability of harmful microbes to live on the plants. Some of the microbes in the bio-pesticides can also poison and kill harmful insects and pests.

You should ensure that those who will spray the crops with pesticides must do so effectively and efficiently, the pesticides solution must tough all the parts of the tomato plants. You may use Knapsack sprayer or motorised sprayer.

pesticides spraying

Disease and Pest Prevention and Control

Tomato plants attract a lot of pests and diseases. The following can be done to prevent and control diseases and pests in tomato farming:

Nematicides should be used at the start of the season if the soil is infected with nematodes.

Avoid overhead irrigation; this increases the risk of fungal attacks. Drip irrigation system is the most appropriate type of irrigation for tomato cultivation.

Stagnant water should not be left on the field. It can breed pests and diseases.

The regime of spraying of pesticides must be followed judiciously.

Fertilizers with high nitrogen content should be used with caution. High nitrogenous fertilizers can make the plant more susceptible to diseases and pests.

The right types of fertilizers should be used as this can promote resilience and good health in tomato plants.

Mulch should be used. Mulch can be plastic coverings on the bed or straws and dried leaves.

Excessive leaves or foliage should be removed to prevent diseases.

The tomato leaves and fruits should be kept away from the soil. Staking will make this possible.

All the tools to be used on the farm must be cleaned with disinfectants.

tomato disease

Staking

Depending on the variety of tomatoes you plant, you may need to stake the plants. Staking improves aeration and it prevents spoilage of tomato fruits. When tomato fruits touch the soil, they may get rotten.

Stakes to be used in tomato farming can be a trellis net, wooden stakes, iron bar stakes and wire tomato cages.

Stakes should be at least 7 feet in height.

Indeterminate tomatoes grow so tall and they set fruit till they die off.

Indeterminate tomatoes can grow up to 10 feet; they are mostly planted in greenhouses and polytunnels. You have to prune indeterminate tomato plants intermittently for optimum production.

Semi-indeterminate tomatoes are similar to indeterminate tomatoes; they grow very tall too but not as tall as indeterminate tomatoes. Both indeterminate and semi-indeterminate tomatoes need staking.

Determinate tomatoes or bushy tomatoes are varieties that grow short, they do not need staking, they set their fruits within a short time and they can be harvested for a very short time.

Pruning and Training

Tomato plants should be trained when they are young. Training of tomato plants involves tying the tomato stems with ropes to the stakes so that the tomato plants will grow upwards around the stake.

Twines are usually the type of rope used for training of tomato vines. Care should be taken when training the vines so that the cluster of flowers will not be affected.

Pruning of tomato suckers can improve the yield of tomato plants whilst also reducing the risk of diseases and pests infestation.

Your fingers can be used to take off the suckers from the stems. Clean sharp tool can also be used for pruning.

Harvest

Mature fruits should be harvested on time from the vines of the tomato plants.

If the fruits are harvested when green, they can be kept in an open place with good aeration to become ripe.

There are also some hormones that can be used to speed up ripening in tomato fruits. Freshly harvested tomatoes should be kept in trays.

Marketing of produce

Before planting, you must devise a way to market the fresh tomatoes when harvested. Do you want to sell in the organised market like Shoprite or hotels?

Do you want to sell in the unorganised market like Mile 12 market Lagos, Aba local market or any other open roof market around you?

If you want to sell in the organised market, you must produce all year around and harvest almost every week, in this case, you need to practise succession planting.

In the organised market, the price of your produce will be pre-agreed and it will be the same price over a specified period of time say 12 months.

You may agree that you will sell your kilo of fresh tomatoes at N400. The advantage of this is that your cashflow can be predicted.

In the unorganised market, the prices of tomatoes are not stable, you cannot sell by weight. You will rather sell in baskets. There are several types of these cane baskets.

A 60kg basket full of fresh tomatoes that can sell for N5,000 today may sell for N25,000 next month. The prices are somewhat volatile, though seasoned tomato farmers know the prices to expect at any point in time. Dry season tomato farming can be very profitable in Nigeria.

The timing of your harvested tomato produce is also very important especially if you are selling in the unorganised market. There are peak and off-peak tomato season in Nigeria, this trend has been established for over 50 years and it has not been broken.

There are times; tomatoes are extremely cheap and there seasons that prices of tomatoes can increase by over 200%. Tomatoes are usually very expensive in the rainy season in Nigeria.

Tomato Processing in Nigeria/Outgrowers’ Scheme – Opportunities for Investors

tomato farm

About 98% of the semi-finished tomato paste used to produce processed tomato paste in Nigeria is imported. Most tomato processing plants in Nigeria simply package imported tomato paste. Nigerian farmers do not benefit from this business.

There are very few tomato processors who use fresh tomatoes for production of their tomato paste in Nigeria. Dangote Tomato has not really started, ditto Tomato Jos.

The inability to set up tomato outgrower scheme still remains the major reason why most tomato processors have not been successful.

There is still a huge opportunity for any investor who intends to produce tomato paste from fresh tomatoes in Nigeria.

The Federal Government has already placed an import barrier in the form of tariff on imported tomatoes derivatives. This is a positive for any would be investor in the sector.

Setting up outgowers scheme for tomatoes will go a long way in making the processing of fresh tomatoes to paste a reality in Nigeria.

Outgrowers schemes have been very successful in maize, cassava and soybeans processing. With inputs supplied to farmers on credit, farmers will be able to increase acreage of land under cultivation.

Greenhouse Tomato Farming

greenhouse tomato farming

A greenhouse is a structure usually used for the cultivation of crops. Greenhouses are enclosed structure that provides a micro climate for crops to grow. Greenhouses are used to cultivate a lot of crops.

Greenhouse farming is becoming very popular in Nigeria. Cucumbers, pepper, tomatoes and okra etc. are some of the crops cultivated in greenhouses in Nigeria. However, tomato is the most popular crop cultivated in greenhouses in Nigeria.

Greenhouse tomato farming often records a much higher yield than open field cultivation of tomato if done right.

Harvested tomatoes from greenhouses are also considered as premium tomatoes. This commands higher prices that open field harvested tomatoes. Most of the high end retailers and hotels in Nigeria prefer greenhouse grown tomatoes.

Greenhouses are also required when growing tomatoes through hydroponic systems. Most of the large hydroponic tomato farms are done under greenhouses.

To grow tomatoes in a greenhouse, the following steps have to be taken:

Get a good location: To grow tomatoes in a greenhouse, a suitable location has to be found. A greenhouse is better located in a place with good accessibility, availability of power and availability of water for irrigation.

Get a good greenhouse seller or vendor: You should never buy a greenhouse from those who know nothing about greenhouse farming and agronomy.

There are different types of greenhouses; you have to contact an expert dealer to suggest the most appropriate type for you.

Training in greenhouse farming: If you engage in greenhouse farming without the required knowledge and skills, you will not break even and get frustrated.

You should get yourself trained on how to use greenhouses for the cultivation of tomatoes.

Buy the inputs and equipment needed: You need to buy all the inputs and equipment needed for your greenhouse.

The inputs and equipment needed for a greenhouse include the greenhouse structure itself, irrigation equipment, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, source of water, plastic mulch and small farm tools.

Manage the greenhouse: Management of the greenhouse is one of the most important tasks in greenhouse cultivation of tomato. You should ensure that the greenhouse is well maintained and taken care of.

Hydroponic Tomato Farming

hydroponic tomato farming

Hydroponic tomato farming is the cultivation of tomato without the use of soil, often with the use of water only. Though, other substrates or media can be used. For example, coco peat can be used for hydroponic production of tomato.

Hydroponic tomato farming is not too common in Nigeria. However, some farmers have tried hydroponic cultivation of tomato in Nigeria with great success. Tomato is a very popular crop for hydroponic farming.

Some of the hydroponic substrates that can be used to grown tomato include peat moss, gravel, coco peat and rock wool etc.

Static solution culture, continuous flow solution culture, aeroponics, fogponics, passive sub-irrigation, ebb and flow system, run to waste system, deep water culture and rotary system are some of the techniques or growing strategies used in the hydroponic cultivation of tomato.

The use of fish farming wastes to mist or irrigate crops through hydroponic technique is called aeroponics.

Some of the substrates used for hydroponic tomato farming include:

  • Coco peat
  • Grow Stones
  • Gravels
  • Peat Moss
  • Sand
  • Wood Fibre
  • Wool
  • Rice Husks
  • Perlite
  • Polystrene
  • Pumice

In hydroponic farming, crops depend solely on the nutrients provided in water as there is no soil to supply them with nutrients. The farmer has to mix all the nutrients needed by the crop in water.

A typical plant needs a lot of nutrients. The macro nutrients needed by a plant are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The micronutrients needed include calcium, magnesium, molybdenum, copper selenium, sodium and boron etc.

A hydroponic farmer has to be very precise in nutrients application. A wrong mix can ruin the whole crop.

Most of the hydroponic tomato farmers use mainly chemical nutrients, also called inorganic nutrients or fertilizers. These are fertilizers derived from chemicals and synthetic processes.

There are also pure organic hydroponic nutrients. This type of nutrients is natural.

To grow tomato through hydroponic technique, a lot of expertise and skills are needed. The farmer has to know basic science and the ability to measure pH and EC of nutrient solutions. A slight error can ruin the whole hydroponic farm. The pH and EC of nutrient solutions have to be checked intermittently.

Adequate record taking also has to be done. A lot of data are generated from hydroponic farms every day. All these data have to be recorded and stored for easy retrieval and analysis.

Tomato as a crop can really yield well when cultivated through hydroponic method. I have seen a hydroponic tomato farm that yielded 300 tonnes from a quarter of an acre of land.

Organic Tomato Production in Nigeria

tomato farming in nigeria

Organic farming is application of natural and biological methods to the cultivation of crops.

Chemicals are strictly out of bounds in organic farming. Only natural inputs are used.

Organic farming is believed to be beneficial to human, environment and the soil. There are several empirical studies showing the benefits of organic farming to human and the environment.

Tomato can be produced through organic farming methods. There are several farmers in Nigeria producing tomatoes through natural means and without the use of any chemicals at all.

In Nigeria, tomato farmers practicing organic farming use inputs like compost, manure, humates, biofertilizers, biopesticides, bioinsecticides and biofungicides for the growing of their crops.

The natural fertilizers used in organic production of fertilizers include potassium humate, fluvic acid, egg shell, blood meal, manure, compost and kitchen wastes etc.

A typical example of a bio insecticide is neem oil. Neem oil can also work as an organic fungicide, bactericide and nematicide.

There are some beneficial microbes that can help in unlocking nutrients in the soil. Some also help in eradicating harmful microbes, insects and other pests.

Biodiversity is one of the main advantages of practicing organic farming. In organic farming, biodiversity is highly encouraged, this positively impacts the environment.

Application of Nutrients/Fertilizers in Tomato Cultivation

Tomato is a crop that is a heavy feeder; it removes a lot of nutrients from the soil. A ton of tomato fruits removes about 950 grams of nitrogen, 720 grams of phosphorus and 1,800 grams of potassium from the soil.

In glass greenhouse production of tomato with an expected yield of 300 tonnes per hectare, 450kg of nitrogen, 200kg of phosphorus, 850kg of potassium, 100kg of magnesium and 290kg of calcium have to be applied to the crop.

In the open field one hectare of tomato cultivation, 150kg of nitrogen, 110kg of phosphorus and 250kg of potassium have to be applied to the crop.

For an expected yield of 35 tonnes per hectare of open field tomato production, 80kg of nitrogen, 80kg of phosphorus and 170kg of potassium have to be applied to the crop.

For an expected yield of 25 tonnes per hectare of tomato cultivation in the open field, 40kg of nitrogen, 32kg of phosphorus and 70kg of potassium have to be applied to the crop.

For an expected yield of 15 tonnes per hectare of open field tomato production, 35kg of nitrogen, 9kg of phosphorus and 55kg of potassium have to be applied to the crop.

The lime in the soil can also affect the usage of nutrients by crops.

Tomato produces well when the soil pH is between 5.9 – 6.8.

If the soil pH is 6.0, 2.9 – 5.5 tonnes of lime have to be added to the soil depending on the type of soil (sandy, loamy or clay).

If the soil pH is 5.5, 5.7 – 10.5 tonnes of lime have to be added to the soil depending on the type of soil (sandy, loamy or clay).

If the soil pH is 5.0, 8.2 – 16.2 tonnes of lime have to be added to the soil depending on the type of soil (sandy, loamy or clay).

If the soil pH is 4.5, 11.1 – 21.3 tonnes of lime have to be added to the soil depending on the type of soil (sandy, loamy or clay).

If the soil pH is 4.0, 13.3 – 27.5 tonnes of lime have to be added to the soil depending on the type of soil (sandy, loamy or clay).

Pre-planting fertilizer are also needed for tomato, this is called base dressing.

For high yield in tomato cultivation, base fertilizers like single super phosphate, potassium sulfate, magnesium sulfate and limestone (if your soil has a low pH) have to be used.

Some farmers aiming at a super high yield of tomato may apply 90 – 240kg of single super phosphate fertilizer, 190 – 390kg of potassium sulfate and 90 – 190kg of magnesium sulfate as base fertilizer in tomato production.

For tomato under drip irrigation, 49kg of nitrogen can be fertigated as pre-plant fertilizer per hectare. Then, 0.75kg of nitrogen will be applied daily through fertigation during the growing season.

It is also advised for a farmer to side dress his tomato plants during the growing season.

Source: Haifa

Should you require a daily fertigation schedule for your tomato farm, kindly send your soil test result to us for proper guidance.

Health Benefits of Tomatoes

health benefits of tomatoes

Tomatoes contain vitamin C, beta carotene and antioxidants. These components of tomatoes destroy free radicals in the body which in turns prevents cancer. There are studies showing that a high intake of tomatoes can prevent tumours and colon cancer.

Tomatoes also contain lycopene. Lycopene helps the body in the prevention of prostate cancer. It also improves the health of the heart.

Tomatoes contain a high level of potassium. Potassium widens the arteries in the body which also improves the health of the heart and the blood vessels. Potassium also counteracts the harmful effects of excess sodium in the body.

Tomatoes contain fibres which are good for the digestive health. Fibres also serve as food for the beneficial microbes in the gut.

The consumption of tomatoes can also prevent diabetes. Diabetes is a dangerous disease that causes a high number of deaths annually.

The high level of water in tomatoes can prevent constipation and other stomach troubles.

The antioxidants in tomatoes can improve the health of the eyes.

Source: Medical News Today

Types of Tomato Varieties

Below are some of the types of tomato varieties according to the growing habit:

Indeterminate Variety: The indeterminate tomato variety is a type of tomato plant that grows continuously until it is killed by disease or an adverse weather condition.

Indeterminate tomato plants grow continuously throughout the season, they do not stop to grow until they are killed by disease or frost.

Indeterminate varieties are mostly planted in greenhouses. They can grow as tall as 8 feet – 12 feet. They are often staked in greenhouses.

Determinate Variety: Determinate varieties are shorter than indeterminate varieties. They stop growing when they reach a certain height. This means that they do not grow indefinitely.

Determinate variety of tomato produces almost all their fruits within a short time, say 2-3 months after which they stop production.

Determinate varieties are best suited for small gardens, open field and sack or bag farming. In Nigeria, almost all the open field tomato farmers cultivate determinate variety of tomato.

Examples of determinate variety of tomato in Nigeria include Platinum F1, Padma F1 and Cobra F1 etc.

Semi-Determinate Variety: This is a type of tomato that grows like an indeterminate variety whilst also sharing some the characteristics of a determinate variety.

A semi-determinate variety can produce fruits for a long time like an indeterminate variety, but it is more compact than an indeterminate variety.

An example of semi-determinate tomato variety in Nigeria is Shanty F1, this is a tomato variety produced by Hazera Israel. It can produce fruits for a fairly long time.

Source: Bonnie Plants

Hybrid Tomato Seeds in Nigeria

Hybrid tomato seeds often produce much higher yields than open pollinated tomato seeds in Nigeria.

The following are some of the hybrid tomato seeds popular in Nigeria:

Platinum F1: This is a hybrid tomato seed produced by East West Seeds. It is a highly prolific variety as it produces a lot of fruits within a short time.

Platinum F1 is a determinate variety. It is resistant to a lot of tomato viral disease which makes it suitable for dry season tomato farming.

The fruits are however not too big like some other hybrid tomato variety in Nigeria.

Cobra F1: This is a popular determinate tomato variety in Nigeria produced by Technisem France. Cobra F1 produces fruits within a short time as its growing habit is determinate.

Cobra F1 is resistant to tomato bacteria wilt. Bacteria wilt is prevalent in Nigerian soil especially in Southern Nigeria.

Padma F1: This is a hybrid tomato seeds produced by East West Seeds. Padma F1 produces big fruits which are favoured in Nigerian markets. Padma F1 variety also has a determinate growing habit. It has a partial resistance to bacterial wilt.

Anna F1: This is an indeterminate tomato variety suitable for greenhouse farming. It can grow as tall as 10 feet when staked.

Anna F1 is very prolific. A tomato farmer that cultivates this variety can harvest for over 7 months.

Tylka F1: Just like Anna F1, Tylka F1 has an indeterminate growing habit. It can grow as tall as 10 feet when staked. It also can produce fruits in a prolific manner.

Market Analysis

Tomato is eaten by almost everybody in Nigeria. The market for tomatoes in Nigeria is huge. Nigeria has a huge population and almost everybody in Nigeria consumes tomato every day.

Tomato is one of the doyen ingredients used in the preparation of most foods and soups in Nigeria.

You can hardly find anyone in Nigeria who does not consume tomatoes either fresh or as part of a food every day. Stew, a popular soup in Nigeria is prepared with tomatoes.

Tomatoes have a fairly constant demand in Nigeria every day. However, there demand spikes during festive months like Christmas, New Year, Easter and Muslims festivals.

There is also a surge in demand for tomatoes during the Ramadan fasting period of Muslims in Nigeria.

A huge proportion of the tomatoes consumed in Nigeria are grown in the northern part of the country, though some southern states also produce tomatoes but not as much as the northern states.

Most of the tomatoes consumed in Nigeria are sold as fresh in the open markets. Tomatoes are found in all open roof markets in Nigeria. The largest market for tomatoes in Nigeria is the Mile 12 market in Lagos.

Tomatoes especially those grown in greenhouses are also sold to big hotels and high end retailers like Shoprite and Spa. This set of tomatoes buyers pay premium prices for good quality fresh tomatoes sold to them.

Large tomato paste processors like Dangote Tomato, GB Foods and Olam etc. buy a lot of tomatoes from farmers. These large processors have the ability to buy tomatoes in tonnes.

Dangote Tomato alone can use several tonnes of tomato in its processing plant daily.

Dangote Tomato had shut its plant down in the past due to non-availability of fresh tomatoes. This can be an opportunity for an investor who is willing to invest in tomato farming.

Gb Foods in Kebbi also buys a lot of fresh tomatoes from tomato farmers around its location in Kebbi, Niger and Sokoto states.

Export Market for Tomatoes

tomato for export

Tomatoes are some of the most exported vegetables in the world. Go to most export zones in the vegetables exporting countries of the world; you will see that tomatoes are one of the top exported vegetables.

In Nigeria, tomatoes are not officially exported; however, there are exports of fresh tomatoes to neighboring countries. Traders in the Republic of Benin, Cameroun and Chad etc. come to buy fresh tomatoes in Nigeria.

In Badagry, Lagos, a lot of traders from the Republic of Benin buy fresh tomatoes from Nigeria and ferry to their country, ditto, in the border towns of Northern Nigeria.

A tomato farmer who can invest in greenhouses and produce high quality premium fresh tomatoes may be able to export his produce to Europe and some Asian countries.

In Europe, the prices of fresh tomatoes command a very high price. Any farmer in Nigeria who can export tomatoes to Europe can earn a decent profit.

The major hindrance why Nigerian produce are not exported to Europe and other countries is the level of pesticide residue in the produce.

Farmers can be educated on how the level of pesticides in their produce can be reduced so that they will be accepted in the international market.

Why People fail in Tomato Farming

tomato fruits

The following are some of the top reasons why tomato farmers fail in Nigeria:

The planting of poor quality seeds, to succeed in tomato farming; you are advised to use of poor quality seeds especially seeds removed from tomato fruits is one of the reasons for low yield in tomato farming in Nigeria.

The level of nutrients in the different types of soil in Nigeria is also a factor why some tomato farmers fail in Nigeria. To succeed in tomato farming, soil analysis has to be done. If the soil is poor, it must be amended.

Lack of water and irrigation can also be a factor negatively impacting tomato farming in Nigeria. Without adequate supply of water, a tomato plant cannot reach its peak production level.

Low application rate of fertilizers also contribute to the low yield some tomato farmers record in Nigeria. To succeed in tomato farming, adequate fertilizers have to be used.

Pests and diseases can also lead to a poor show in tomato farming. Pests and diseases need to be prevented and when they strike, good pesticides must be used to attack them. Pests and diseases can ruin a tomato farm.

Non attention to weed problems can also lead to poor yield in tomato farming. Plastic mulch can be used to prevent weeds from affecting tomato plants. Also, adequate weeding has to be done intermittently.

Tomato plants especially the indeterminate type needs to be staked. Staking of tomato plants can improve the yield of tomato plants and also reduce the incidences of pests and diseases.

Using pesticides recklessly can also lead to problems in tomato farming. Pesticides must be applied in the right quantity and dosage. Sub-standard pesticides should be avoided.

Diseases of tomato plants

Late Blight

This is a tomato disease caused by an oomycete, it has been wrongly said that this disease is caused by a type of fungus. Oomycetes are not true fungi, they are different and the curative strategy for oomycetes is a bit different.

Late blight is caused by Phytophthora infestans. The symptoms of late blight presents as irregular brown spots on tomato fruits, the fruits may later become rotten. Tomato late blight disease is prevalent during the cool and rainy season.

Good and consistent spraying of fungicide will help in preventing and controlling this disease. You may either use organic or inorganic fungicide.

Early Blight

This disease leaves brown or black spots on the dark edges of the lower leaves of a tomato plant. The stems can also have spots. This disease mostly appears when the tomato plants start setting fruits.

Mosaic Virus

Mosaic virus is transmitted by insects and beetles. Once your tomato plants get infected, the leaves may become yellow and rough or papery in texture. Tobacco smokers can also act as an agent of transfer of this disease on your tomato farm.

To prevent this disease, you should control insects, also make sure that no tobacco user works in your farm. If you suspect that any tomato plant is affected with mosaic virus, uproot the plant and bury or burn far away from your farm.

There are several tomato varieties resistant to this disease.

Bacterial Wilt

This is a disease that starts from the soil. Once your soil is infected with the disease, if you plant a tomato variety without resistance to the disease, then your plants stand a chance of getting the disease.

The symptoms appear as a sudden wilting and death of the tomato plants. Plants may wilt in a sunny afternoon and within hours they may die. The disease affects the vascular system of the tomato plants; it prevents the passing of water and nutrients to the key parts and tissues of the tomato plant.

To know if your tomato plant has bacterial wilt, cut the stem and put the cut stem in clear water in a transparent glass cup. If a creamy or white substance oozes out of the cut stem, then you can assume that the plant is infected with bacterial wilt.

To bacterial wilt, ensure that you solarise your soil so that the organism causing the disease dies. Also, ensure that your tomato plants do not have any injury or cut that will make the disease enter the plants easily.

Some parts of Nigeria have higher incidences of bacteria wilt than others.

Tuta Absoluta

This is a type of moth that can ravage and destroy hectares of tomato farms within days. This leaf miner can lead to 100% loss of yield.

Tuta Absoluta affects the leaves and fruits. The pest makes the fruits unmarketable. There are good pesticides that can be used to prevent and tackle the disease.

Tomato Plant Disease Resistance Codes

V Verticillium wilt
F Fusarium wilt
F Fusarium wilt races 1 and 2
FFF Fusarium wilt races 1, 2, and 3
N Nematodes
A Alternaria alternata (stem canker or early blight)
T Tobacco mosaic virus
St Stemphylium (gray leaf spot)
TSWV Tomato spotted wilt virus

Precision tools for Tomato Farming

The following are some of the precision tools that can be used in tomato farming:

  • Motorised sprayer
  • Motorised weeder
  • Motorised tiller
  • Refractometer
  • Plastic Mulch
  • Drip irrigation system etc.

Questions and Answers

Question: Where can I get good tomato seeds in Nigeria?

Answer: You can get good tomato seeds from Veggie Grow Limited

Question: Where can i get drip irrigation system in Nigeria?

Answer: You can get drip irrigation system us

Question: Can I make profit farming tomatoes in Nigeria?

Answer: Yes, you can make huge profit from tomato farming in Nigeria; there are farmers who make several millions of naira preseason.

Question: When does the price of tomatoes peak in Nigeria?

Answer: The prices of tomatoes peak around April to July every year. A 50kg basket of tomatoes can go for N25,000 – N30,000 this period while in other times, the price of same basket can go for N7,000.

Question: What is the typical yield of tomatoes?

Answer: This is a tricky question. Your tomato yield depends on factors like soil fertility, agronomic practice, weather, disease infestation and irrigation etc. If everything goes as planned, you can expect to get 15-30 tonnes per acre of hybrid tomatoes. You may also get zero yield if you do not follow the necessary agronomic protocols.

Question: Are fertilisers in Nigeria sub-standard?

Answer: Though this is hardly reported, a significant percentage of fertilisers sold in Nigeria are sub-standard, some are also re-bagged. You should buy your fertiliser from reputable dealers.

Tomato farming is one of the most profitable ventures anybody can do, just make sure you do it right. A tomato farmer can make N10 million if he implements good agronomic practices.

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Ayo Akinfolarin
 

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