Source: Farm radio International
The use of the traditional baskets (The woven raffia baskets made from palm leaves and branches) for the transport of fresh tomatoes from the farm to the market is gradually fading in the Southern part of Nigeria’s Kano State. Many tomato farmers in the State are now using plastic crates instead of the baskets.
The plastic crates protect the tomatoes from being bruised, crushed, or otherwise damaged during transport and handling. According to the farmers, this means that fewer tomatoes and people are injured during transport.
A middle-aged widow, Hajiya Tabawa Hamza who lives in Bunkure Local Government Area in the southern part of Nigeria’s Kano State is a tomato farmer and grows tomatoes on a 100-square-metre farm that she inherited from her late husband. Hitherto, Mrs Hamza used to transport her harvested tomatoes in the raffia baskets but now prefers the plastic crates.
According to her, the plastic crates improve the tomato shelf life. Although the plastic crates are smaller, she prefers them to traditional baskets because fewer tomatoes are damaged in transport. As a result, she sells more tomatoes and her income is five times greater.
“A few years back, I could hardly sell one or two baskets a day due to damages while transporting tomatoes with raffia baskets. Most people passing by are from the city and they prefer fresh tomatoes. I usually recorded losses.” She added.
She’s been using plastic crates since 2018 and doesn’t face the problem of damaged tomatoes. Mrs. Hamza says her daily sales volume has increased from one or two raffia baskets to 10 or 12 plastic crates. This has helped increase her daily income from 6,000 Nigerian naira ($16 US) to 30,000 Nigerian naira ($81 US).
Mahmuda Dahiru is the leader of the farmers’ association in Kwanar Gafan, in Bunkure Local Government Area, and he also switched from raffia baskets to plastic crates. The 57 year-old says, his daily sales income from tomatoes has increased from 33,000 Nigerian naira ($89 US) to 44,000 Nigerian naira ($119 US).
Al Hassan Shugaba is a farmer in Kura Local Government Area in Kano State. He has been farming for 25 years and supplies tomatoes to Lagos and other distant places in Nigeria. He says that when he used to transport 100 raffia baskets of tomatoes to the market from his farm, he lost the equivalent of 10 to 20 baskets because of damages. With the plastic crates, almost all the tomatoes arrive at the final destination undamaged.
Mr. Shugaba says another disadvantage of raffia basket is injuries to the people who use them. He says that one time, one of the people he engaged to transport his tomatoes injured his hand so badly that he needed to go to hospital for loss of blood.
Mr. Mal Auwal Salisu is the market linkage and logistics coordinator at Pyxera Global, the company that distributes plastic crates to the farmers’ associations. He says that using the plastic crates to transport tomatoes is safe and cheap and helps farmers make more profit because of the increased shelf life and the minimal number of tomatoes that are damaged.
This resource was produced with support from The Rockefeller Foundation through its YieldWise initiative.