Tomato Jos, a company that’s helping farmers in northern Nigeria increase their crop yields, has secured funding worth €3.9 million from a group of investors. The company will be deploying the funds to build a large tomato processing plant.
Since its founding in 2014, Tomato Jos has worked with local tomato farmers to improve their farming practices and boost their output. It says that it’s recorded major successes, including increasing crop yields from 5 to 22 metric tons per hectare.
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This is considered crucial work in a country that still imports a substantial amount of tomato paste, despite being West Africa’s largest producer of the crop. The country also loses a lot of its perishable goods– sometimes approaching half of what’s harvested –to spoilage, due to a lack of proper storage facilities.
It’s these problems that led Mira Mehta, an American who once served with an international NGO in Nigeria, to set up Tomato Jos. She was persuaded of the size of the crop waste problem and decided to start solving it, beginning with a farming site at Panda, Nassarawa State.
The company has since moved to Kaduna State, where it’s churning out produce from 500 hectares of land. It also plans to construct the new factory there. The project has always been in the works; Tomato Jos’s work with farmers over the past six years has prepared ground for this eventual establishment. They hope to capture about 10% of Nigeria’s market for tomatoes.
The funding comes from a group that includes Goodwell Investments, a Dutch investment firm. Goodwell already has Nigerian companies Max.NG, Paga, Lidya, Baobab Microfinance Bank, and Mainstreet Bank in its portfolio.
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The investment in Tomato Jos came through Alitheia Capital, a Nigerian Venture Capital firm. Other investors involved in this deal include VestedWorld, a firm in the US that invests in emerging markets, and Acumen Partners, a Canadian investment company.
Tomato Jos will now set its sights on erasing more of the product waste problem that’s plagued tomato production in the country. Its tomato factory could put out 24 tons of processed product per day, and increase the quantity of the product available at the markets.
It will also be deploying the funds to establish a drip irrigation system at the local farms they work with. Plans are also in place to reach thousands of farmers and help them scale their production as well.
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