The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) has awarded a 494 million naira ($1.2 million) co-investment grant to Tomato Jos Farming and Processing Limited (Tomato Jos) to boost the productivity, incomes, and resilience of maize and soybean smallholder farmers in northern Nigeria’s Kaduna State.
Kaduna State is home to approximately 1.3 million farming families, many of whom farm both maize and soybean, two of Nigeria’s staple crops. However, domestic production of these grains is failing to meet the high market demand because of several limitations faced by farmers, including outdated farming techniques, limited awareness of the market’s quality demand, and a lack of funds to improve their farming practices.
To address these challenges, Tomato Jos will leverage its grant and approximately 3.3 billion naira ($8 million) of private funds to launch a 3-year maize and soybean outgrower project in northern Nigeria. The project will benefit 4,000 smallholder farmers who will work as outgrowers (also known as contract farmers) with Tomato Jos. Sixty percent of the outgrowers will be women and at least 40 percent youth.
The 4,000 smallholders will be trained on modern farming techniques to ensure their crops’ quality and increase their productivity. As many smallholders currently lack the capital to fully run their farm, loans will also be offered. These loans, combined with a guaranteed offtake of the crops through Tomato Jos, will provide a much-needed financial backstop to the smallholders, particularly for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through these efforts, smallholders’ will be able to produce 3,600 metric tons of maize by the third year of the project, and 400 metric tons of soybean.
“Leveraging private investments to finance smallholder farmers is key to driving inclusive economic growth in Northern Nigeria,” says Mira Mehta, founder of Tomato Jos. “We are proud to partner with the Trade Hub on this innovative project.”
The co-investment will also be used to assist Tomato Jos in improving its operations and productivity. The company will expand its storage capacity for grains, source improved inputs for greater yields, and increase its model farm and outgrower programs to cover more locations for maize and soybean farming. Tomato Jos will also develop its mobile and cloud technology platforms for data capturing, farm monitoring, and improved communication.
The Trade Hub’s partnership with Tomato Jos builds on its other recently launched partnerships in Nigeria, such as ones with PYXERA Global and Thrive Agric, also focused on increased maize and soybean production.
“Nigeria has seen its outputs of maize and soybean decline in recent years and efforts to counter this have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic” says Karl Littlejohn, Acting Chief of Party for the Trade Hub. “Thus, it is vital to assist companies such as Tomato Jos to help farmers increase production of these two staple crops and support food security.”