Tomato is a vegetable crop that is commonly grown by West Africa farmers. The fruit is called berry when rice and can be eaten raw, used for soup and stew preparation, or used in preparing vegetable salad and other kinds of meals. Tomato showed its relevance in the lives of Nigerian when there was a disease that reduced its production and distribution throughout the country. It was really terrible. Due to this problem, the price shot drastically making Nigerians to look for other options to be used for preparing stews and soups.
BENEFITS TOMATO FARMING IN NIGERIA
Source of food: When a tomato fruit is fully matured it is called berry. This can be eaten raw, apart from this tomato can be used in preparing delicacies such as stews, soups, salad etc.
Source of Income: Tomato can be traded in the market in exchange for money.
Source of employment: Instead of whirling away time and waiting for white collar jobs that may never come. Those who are unemployed can go into this farming practice and make a decent living from it.
TOMATO FARMING IN NIGERIA
Land Preparation: The land is cleared with cutlass and ridges are made with a local hoe, the land can also be prepared by ploughing, harrowing and ridging.
Varieties or cultivars: Varieties or cultivars include money-maker. Valiant, pork, dwarf gem, marglobe, Ife plum, bonita, roma, local varieties.
Climatic and soil requirements: Tomato requires a temperature of 20 ◦C – 25◦C, rainfall of 50-125cm, high level of sunshine and a well-drained loamy soil, rich in organic matter.
Planting: Tomato is planted in early September to October. It is propagated by seed by drilling or broadcasting. Seed rate is 5-10kg of seeds/ha. Spacing is 60cm by 60cm without staking and 50cm by 30cm with staking.
- The nursery can be done on the ground, beds or seed boxes/trays with top soil thoroughly mixed and watered.
- Seeds are sown in drills, 5cm apart and 2.5cm deep.
- Shading, mulching, weeding and watering are done
- Nursery lasts for three weeks when the plants are at the three-leaved stage.
Transplanting: Seedlings with four to five leaves, 15cm-20cm tall and about 25-30 days old are transplanted with the ball of earth. Holes measuring 5cm are dug and seedlings are transplanted to the field either in the morning or evening.
- Fertilizer Application: Apply NPK 15:15:15 fertilizer to each plant three weeks after transplanting at 250kg/hectare; or apply any organic manure like compost or farmyard manure at 30-40 metric tonnes per hectare.
- Weeding: weeding should be carried out at regular intervals.
- Watering: Seedlings should be watered morning and evening till the plants are enabled to stand on their own.
- Staking: Use stakes to support plant and enable them to stand erect and prevent lodging. The stems are tied to the stakes. This process allows for good fruiting and keeps fruits from disease attack, arising from contact with the soil. This process should be done before flowering.
Maturity Period: This occurs between two to four months after planting
Harvesting: Matured or ripe fruits are harvested by hand picking and stored in a cool, dry place. Harvesting starts from two months.
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