Staggering technique in tomato farming yields positive results in central Nigeria as farmers share their success stories.
Mr. Jibril Sule Dakasoye is a farmer in his late 40s with 28 years of experience. He owns one-and-a-half hectares of farmland in Kawma village, near Kano city in central Nigeria where he plants tomatoes and other vegetables and maize. This gives him multiple sources of income. When the price of tomatoes isn’t favourable, he sells cucumber or garden eggs. Compared to growing only tomatoes, he says this arrangement stabilizes his income against the uncertainty of market prices.
Mr. Dakasoye says in the past, he couldn’t support his wife and 14 children well because an oversupply of tomatoes in the market caused poor prices. Vendors took advantage of the market glut by offering growers very low prices and by not using scales to weigh the tomatoes
But now, Mr. Dakasoye carefully stagger his tomato plantings. He divided his tomato farm into four sections and plants each one three weeks apart. This helps him avoid harvesting and selling his tomatoes all at the same time. The result is a better price for his tomatoes, because he avoids the glut in the market when tomatoes from most farmers’ are available at the same time.
“Now I don’t rush to take all my tomatoes to the market.” He said.
He explains: “Because all farmers planted and harvested tomatoes at the same time, buyers were coming here using special raffia baskets as a measurement scale which are far bigger than the baskets farmers were using. And this made us sell more volume at a loss.”
Mr. Dakasoye says staggering his plantings allows him to get the best price and is now able to support his family. He says, “Since I started staggering and doing market research, my income from tomato has improved. I now even give my children stipends on a monthly basis.”
Allahasan Shugaba grows and sells tomatoes in Kura Local Government Area in Kano state. Mr. Shubaga says that market gluts happen because farmers rush to plant tomatoes at the time of year when water is most readily available.
Adamu Usman is a tomato farmer in Garum Mallam who supports his 19 children and wives with the proceeds from tomatoes. He says, “I have acquired knowledge of the staggering method. It helps me to effectively plant and harvest every other week.”
He adds, “I also avoid glut in the market by making phone calls to find out the market situation and prices before harvesting my tomato.”
Dahiru Mukhtar is the agribusiness specialist and business adviser at Technoserve in Kano State. The non-governmental organization works with farmers to build competitive farms.
Mr. Mukhtar says: “When the supply of tomatoes is low in the market, the farmers make more money. And when the supply is high, the price becomes low. Farmers will get a better income if they use effective staggering methods.”
Mr. Dakasoye and many other farmers in his area learned about staggered planting about 14 years ago from the federal government through a project that focused on agriculture in fertile river flood plains.
Source: This resource was produced by Farm Radio International (www.farmradio.org) with support from The Rockefeller Foundation through its YieldWise initiative.