How to Start Tomatoes Farming Business in Southern Nigeria

Alt: = "Tomatoes farm with ripen tomato fruits"

Published: 21 March 2022

Updated: 11 November 2023

Tomatoes which originated from South America, especially Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, and was brought to Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa by Christopher Columbus and other explorers, has become one of the most important cooking ingredients in Nigeria today. 90 percent of our dishes are never complete without tomato source.

This therefore makes tomato farming a lucrative business in Nigeria. Over 80 percent of tomato pastes consumed in Nigeria are imported with an import bill of about $1 billion annually. The local tomato paste producers complain of shortage in local supply of tomato fruits.

In setting up a successful tomato farming business in Nigeria, the following steps have to be taken:

  • Site selection
  • Land preparation
  • Seed variety selection
  • Nursery planting
  • Transplanting to permanent site
  • Application of fertilizer
  • Water management
  • Weeding
  • Pests control
  • Harvesting
  • Marketing

Site Selection

Select fertile land with well drained clay loam to sandy soils with good infiltration rate, and acidic level of 6 - 6.8 pH. Adequate water source is required for dry season production.

Tomatoes are also sensitive to cool night temperature bellow 55°F

The best temperature range for the growing season is between 60and 90°F; temperatures above 90°F or below 55°F will slow the growth, pollination, and maturity of the crops.

Land Preparation

Clear the land and till soil before construction of basin or ridges

At land preparation, apply 5-10 tones FYM per hectare and incorporate into the soil at land preparation.

Varieties and Seed Selection

There are 3 major varieties in Nigeria

Roma VF


Ronita VFN

Nursery Practices

Select a well-drained fertile soil and bear a very good irrigation water source

Prepare raised bed during wet season and sunken during dry season.

The land should be cleared and keep the soil loose for good seed bed.

The seed bed should be wide and as long as possible.

Incorporate farm hard manure plus 20-25 gram (1match box full) of N.P.K 15:15:15 fertilizer per square meter.

Sowing Dates, Time and Methods

Nursery practice

Sow the seeds along drills of 10-15cm apart and cover the seed lightly with soil and apply mulch (it is important to free seed with Apron star)

Seed rate:

350 grams per hectare

Water lightly and regularly

Keep the seed free from weed

Seedlings are ready for transplanting between 3 – 4 weeks in the nursery

Transplanting to Permanent Site

Pre-irrigate the permanent site about an hour before transplanting

Transplanting should be done in the evening or early in the morning

Tomatoes should be transplanted on bed or ridges. Ridges spacing at 75cm x 45cm and basin spacing is 60cm x 45cm or 50cm.

Soil Management

Tomatoes prefer well fertile drained soil reach with organic matter, so organic manure should be incorporated to improve the soil structure.

Use mulching materials to cover the soil to reduce evapo-transpiration.

Integrated Soil Fertility Management

Apply 300kg to 350kg NPK 15:15:15 plus 2 bags of Urea per hectare at 3 to 6 weeks after transplanting. Apply 10cm further away from the plant base 3-5cm deep into the soil and cover properly.

Organic Manure: Apply 5-10FYM per hectare and incorporate into the soil at land preparation.

Water Management


Tomatoes require a constant supply of moisture during the growing season. However, excess water at any time during growth, especially after fruits set, may increase the fruit's susceptibility to cracking (both radial and concentric), which can reduce fruit quality and yield.

Moisture stress in tomatoes causes shedding of flowers and young fruit, sun scalding and dry rot of fruit. The most critical stages for watering are at transplanting, flowering and fruit development.

The most common irrigation practice in Nigeria is the surface irrigation by gravity using water from reservoir through constructed channels of River Basin Development Authority. Others are water from shallow wells, rivers, ponds or dams supplied by motorized pumps.

Drip and Sprinkler irrigation systems are gradually being practiced by few farmers in Nigeria.

Weed Management

Control weed effectively

Two to three hand/how weeding at 3-9 weeks after transplanting

You can also use herbicides Butaclorat (selective herbicide) 4 liters per hectare after transplanting.

Tomato Crop Maturity, Harvesting

Alt: = " mature-unripe tomatoes"

Fresh tomatoes are the number one crop in terms of farm gate value among all the vegetables grown. Harvest tomato when the fruits are mature and about to ripe. Tomatoes should be harvested when they reach the mature-green stage. If tomatoes are harvested when the are ripen, the may perish before reaching the market. Tomatoes have a very short shelf life, and it’s transported to long distance to where they are been supplied to. If tomatoes are also harvested too early, the fruits will fail to ripen normally. Since the mature-green state is somehow difficult to determine externally, you will need to take representative sample of the fruits from the field and cut it open for internal examination. A typical mature-green tomato will have a jelly-like matrix in all locules, and seeds will be sufficiently developed so as not to be cut when the fruits sliced with a sharp knife.

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