Starting a tomato farming business is a rewarding business that is not too expensive to start up. However, before you start your tomatoes business, find out what kind of tomatoes people usually want. This information can be gotten from those who supply seeds, as they will be able to tell you what is popular and what isn’t. Also, they will let you know the varieties that sell well; however, you will also need to ensure that the seeds you finally pick will grow well in your climate.
This means you would need to check your soil, and make sure it is very healthy. For instance, if you intend to plant heirloom tomatoes, your soil will need to have lots of organic matter and humus, and also have a neutral Ph that is under 7.
This will ensure that pests and disease problems for the tomatoes are reduced to the barest minimum. It is advisable you test your soil before planting; you can do this yourself or ensure that you take it to a soil laboratory to determine its health.
Once your tomatoes are fully developed and ready for harvest, they will turn into their natural colors – red, yellow, purple, or pink. Once you have harvested them you can start selling them. However, you would need to have carried out due diligence and search for your customers so that you don’t just have your produce with no one willing to buy.
Starting a Tomato Farming Business
- Tomato Farming Industry Overview
There are two ways a tomato plant can grow, determinate and indeterminate. A determinate tomato will not only grow to a specified height that has been genetically determined, but it will produce all of the fruiting flowers at the same time; while an indeterminate will continue to grow and produce throughout the whole season.
Tomatoes are harvested for two basic purposes such as:
- Fresh produce for direct consumption
- Marketing and processing
1). Tomato Production:
This involves the use of a farmland to grow tomato crops. This usually encompasses tomato seeds, an irrigation channel, tomato nurseries, adequate fertiliser, and a good technical know-how of starting and growing a tomato plantation.
It’s not entirely compulsory that you start out on a standard farmland. Tomato crops can grow even in your backyard. Taking off from there would be a good place to start. As you confidently realise you can really pull through running a tomato farm on a large scale, you can then proceed to setup a standard tomato farm.
2) Tomato Processing:
After tomatoes are grown and sold by farmers to end users, some buyers take the purchased tomato further, by creating by-products from this crop.
Tomato processing largely involves converting the farm product into other forms. E.g tomato pastes, ketchup, etc.
How Do You Setup A Tomato Farm?
To setup a working tomato farm, you’d need a variety of conditions and resources to both be met and acquired. These are:
1). A Farmland:
You’d need a wide area to grow your crops. Whether you’re starting out of your backyard or not, having a dedicated piece of land groomed specifically for growing your tomato crops is the first and most important thing.
2). Tomato Seeds:
Having the right breed of tomato seeds is important to the success of your tomato farm. Whether it’s roma tomatoes (the most common and widely sold tomato breed in Nigeria), cherry tomatoes, sauce tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes or even more, identifying and purchasing the seeds for the right breed is important to your farm’s success.
The tomato seeds are best grown indoors first, then transferred to beds when they have an established root system and a few leaves. This is important because they need a constant temperature of at least 60 degrees and preferably 80 degrees to germinate.
3). A Good Irrigation System:
Your crops would need to be grown in a highly regulated watered environment. Dry lands mostly never grow crops, and with various factors like timing, genetics, environment, water supply, and more to be considered, a good irrigation system must be in place to ensure your tomato crops stay health.
Not all farmlands are suitable to grow tomato crops. For some, you need to constantly fertilise the soil to achieve optimum growth. Using the right fertilizer on your farmlands to aid your tomato crop growth is important to the crop’s full and healthy maturity.
The Key Advantage Of Tomato Farming
The insatiable demand from Africans for tomato products is the ultimate advantage of venturing into tomato farming. With the demand far exceeding the available supply coupled with imported supplements, tomato farming done on a large scale would not only reap tremendous returns for the farmers, but would also guarantee their crops are sold out quickly.
Before starting a tomato farming business, you would need to ensure that you carry out a thorough investigation by visiting other tomato farms in your area as well as produce stands in the farmers market. Visiting the farm will provide you with the information needed to be able to plant your own tomatoes, while visiting the produce stands will help you see customer buying trends so as to have first-hand information of what customers would want.
However, if you intend to include grocery stores, and restaurants amongst your customers, you could decide to produce a variety of different types so that your customers could have their different preferences. Apart from knowing what tomatoes would move in the market, you have to be prepared for pests and diseases that could destroy your yield and also investment.
Another thing you would need to know before planting your tomatoes is the viability of your soil, this means that not all tomato variety might work with your soil composition, and so it would be necessary for you to carry out a test on your soil by sending samples to a soil laboratory for analysis.
Depending on the circumstances in the state you intend to produce your tomatoes you could decide to sell your tomatoes to tomatoes processing factories. Another thing to consider for your tomato farming business is the storage facilities available to store your tomatoes, since the tomatoes have to be in a good condition before they reach the customers.
What Are The Risks Involved In Tomato Farming?
- Potential risks ranging from rodent, insects, pests, birds, and more attacks on your crops could lead to terrible losses.
- The startup cost for running a large scale tomato farm, or tomato processing plant is extremely high. Not treating such an investment with care could not only lead to a heavy loss, but could tank an individual’s financial status all together.
Tomato farming is a lucrative agricultural business opportunity if carried out on a large scale. While several perks may haunt this venture, the advantages far outweigh the risks.