Nigeria: Tomato farmers avoid glut in market by staggering plantings

| March 29, 2020

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Jibril Sule Dakasoye farms on one-and-a-half hectares in Kawma village, near Kano city in central Nigeria. He plants tomatoes and other vegetables, but is careful to 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 most farmers’ tomatoes are available at the same time.

It’s a Sunday morning, but Jibril Sule Dakasoye is on the way to his farm. He’s riding his old bicycle that squeaks from the chain and tires. He waves at the people he passes as he cycles to the farm to join his children.

Mr. Dakasoye says he couldn’t support his children well in the past because an oversupply of tomatoes in the market caused poor prices. To overcome this challenge, he staggers his tomato planting to avoid harvesting and selling all his tomatoes at the same time. He says, “I don’t rush to take all my tomatoes to the market.”

Mr. Dakasoye is in his late 40s and lives in Gawma village, 75 kilometres from the ancient city of Kano in central Nigeria. He started farming 28 years ago and has a one-and-a-half hectare farm. Apart from tomato, he grows maize, cucumber, cabbage, and other vegetables.

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.

Staggering his plantings allows Mr. Dakasoye to get the best price, and he makes a good income from tomatoes. To help him stagger his plantings, he divided his tomato farm into four sections and plants tomatoes on the different sections about three weeks apart. This helps him avoid harvesting and selling all his tomatoes at the same time.

About 14 years ago, Mr. Dakasoye and many other farmers in his area learned about staggered planting from the federal government through a project that focused on agriculture in fertile river flood plains. He says that before he started staggering plantings, vendors took advantage of the market glut by offering growers very low prices and by not using scales to weigh the tomatoes.

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.”

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 is happy that the staggering technique has increased his earnings from tomato farming. He is now able to support his wife and 14 children. 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.”

This resource was produced with support from The Rockefeller Foundation through its YieldWise initiative.