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Olam Nigeria’s pilot farming project to boost tomato value chain

The Federal Government’s initiative to attain self-sufficiency in tomato production and processing received a boost recently when Olam, a leading player in the Nigerian agriculture value chain, embarked on a pilot farming project in the country.

Executing the project through its subsidiary, Caraway Africa Nigeria Ltd, Olam acquired 20 hectares of land for this purpose and set up farms in Karfi, Kano State, as well as Masama and Guri, both located in Jigawa State. The farms are solely dedicated to the production of tomatoes. While the tomatoes were transplanted in October 2019, harvest commenced in February 2020.

The Sun Nigeria

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Olam Nigeria’s pilot farming project to boost tomato value chain

28th February 20200SHARESADVERTISEMENT

Chinyere Anyanwu

The Federal Government’s initiative to attain self-sufficiency in tomato production and processing received a boost recently when Olam, a leading player in the Nigerian agriculture value chain, embarked on a pilot farming project in the country.

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Executing the project through its subsidiary, Caraway Africa Nigeria Ltd, Olam acquired 20 hectares of land for this purpose and set up farms in Karfi, Kano State, as well as Masama and Guri, both located in Jigawa State. The farms are solely dedicated to the production of tomatoes. While the tomatoes were transplanted in October 2019, harvest commenced in February 2020.

Olam Nigeria’s Vice President in charge of Farming Initiatives, Reji George, said preliminary results point to a bountiful harvest, stating that each of the farms were on course to produce 30 metrics tonnes of tomato per hectare, as against the 7.5 metric tonnes per hectare which is Nigeria’s average yield for tomato.

Reji added that the commercial pilot farming initiative, which Olam Nigeria is embarking upon through Caraway Africa Nigeria, is a precursor to a backward integration project for tomato paste production which will commence in March 2021.

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A major challenge confronting the production of tomatoes in Nigeria is a lack of good variety seeds to buy. Another problem is extremely poor yields as low tomato production lead to higher prices, thereby making it unattractive for processors to purchase. These challenges are also linked to the unwillingness of farmers to produce tomatoes in large quantity because they want to avoid product decay and losses because of lack of proper storage and preservation facilities.

Addressing the challenge of poor tomato seeds, Reji said Olam has signed an MoU with the World Vegetable Centre, a globally renowned research institute and prominent seed producer and developer, for the supply of 18 varieties of seeds, exclusively for Caraway Africa Nigeria.

He added: “We have also decided to go for an additional eight varieties of hybrid tomato seeds already existing in Nigeria which have a higher yield potential, but which the farmers are not using because of the cost. We have selected tomato seed varieties which produce fresh tomatoes as well as the variants which are good for tomato processing.”

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The tomatoes which are being currently harvested at the Caraway Africa Nigeria Kano and Jigawa farms, are considered to be of a higher quality than what is currently being produced by other farmers in terms of size, quality and weight. The tomatoes are products of the Nigerian hybrid seeds and the World Vegetable Centre seeds which were planted on a trial basis.

Alhaji Uba Idris Dogara, owner of Dogara Farms, who has been farming for 35 years, attested to the quality of the recently harvested tomatoes. He said, “I’m an old-time tomato farmer but the method Olam brought to this place is looking better than the previous method we were using.”

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