In Nigeria, the cost of a 60kg basket of fresh tomatoes at the farm gate sold at a range of N20,000-N30,000, ($47-70) in the months of May-August. The same commodity goes for N5,000 - N7,500 ($11-17) between September and March!
How do you address the problem of scarcity of tomatoes in the months of May-August in Nigeria which leads to increased costs and thus economic strain for consumers? While the debate on whether tomatoes are fruits or vegetables continues, the seasonality in the production of this commodity is the major contributing factor to this price disparity. To address this challenge and others, Royal Blue Contractors (RBC) and VD&S Farmer’s Centre signed a partnership agreement with 2SCALE to co-design with other value chain stakeholders, a partnership that would support all year-round production of tomatoes in Nigeria.
Like most parts of Africa, tomato farmers in Nigeria cultivate tomatoes and sell them to buyers in different markets. Most, if not all Nigerians consume this nutrient-dense superfood directly or indirectly, every day. The bulk of tomatoes produced in Nigeria comes from the northern part where they are mostly grown during the dry season; usually between October-February. Very few farmers produce tomatoes during the rainy season, which results in seasonal scarcity.
This seasonal production is mainly attributed to the lack of easy access to facilities such as greenhouses and hybrid seeds which do well all year round. Also, farmers use open pollination (OP) varieties which are susceptible to diseases and low yield, especially during wet seasons.
Syndicating two Business Champions to empower smallholder vegetable farmers
Royal Blue Contractors is one of the leading input distribution companies in the agricultural value chain in Nigeria. With a vision to become the most trusted brand in delivering quality agricultural inputs and related services in the agricultural industry, this company has since 2014, strived to maintain a firm commitment to providing affordable and timely access to inputs and services.
VD&S Farmers’ Centre is a one-stop Agro Centre that provides farmers access to quality agricultural inputs such as hybrid seeds, agrochemicals, farm tools, irrigation equipment, fertilizers, veterinary medication, vaccines, and other inputs for livestock and crop health care needs.
The partnership between 2SCALE and the two input companies is targeted at building the capacity of smallholder vegetable farmers to improve yields and ultimately, their livelihoods. This is being achieved through the provision of quality hybrid vegetable seeds, and training on good agricultural practices to ensure high adoption rates. It also aims to provide market linkages for farmers to sell their produce at consistent and competitive prices. The creation of job opportunities for youth is also at the heart of this partnership.
Currently, the partnership has facilitated the establishment of seven learning plots. Over 20,000 seeds of different tomato varieties and over 15,000 seeds of different varieties of pepper have been nursed in nurseries. About 80% of the seedlings have been successfully transplanted in five of the learning plots.
As the Business Champions in this syndicated partnership, these two private agro-input companies have the ambition to reach 4,000 smallholder farmers, (40% youth and 50% female farmers) within the first two years of implementation. To achieve this, priority has been put on giving these farmers access to improved seeds and markets for their produce.