Nigeria imports over 66 million tonnes of processed tomato annually amounting to some N15billion. In other words, Africa’s largest producer of tomato is also the biggest importer of its processed form. You see our processing capabilities need a lot of work? That’s why you are reading this post.
Because tomato has a short shelf-life, farmers lose millions in revenue due to damages and food waste. They are often forced to sell off their goods at less than ideal prices to forestall damages and loss of revenue. This would not happen if there were appropriate processing and storage means.
When you put this together with the federal government prioritizing tomato processing as one of the ways to encourage farmers and boost agriculture, you see why processing of tomato is such a lucrative venture for entrepreneurs.
I’m not going to lie to you, tomato processing on a commercial-scale is a capital-intensive project. It costs more than the average Nigerian can take on alone. But with the current economic and agriculture trends, it is still one of the most lucrative businesses one could embark on. Not to worry, Here are some important consideration for tomatoes processing business;
- Getting the right location.
Tomatoes have a very short shelf life. They start to decay after a few days. The closer your processing plant is situated to the farm or source of raw materials, the more you are able to get good, uncontaminated tomatoes for processing. This is very important while considering a location for your tomato processing plant. If you plan to have a large-scale tomato processing business, you may need to consider setting up your own tomato farm. This will make sure you have steady supply of raw materials and enables you to pick only fresh tomatoes for processing.
You will also need access to clean water supply, electricity and good roads for transportation of raw materials.
Tomato processing business is one of the businesses that require registration and licensing from the relevant food control and regulatory agencies (NAFDAC for Nigerians). To increase your business credibility it is important to get your product certified and registered with NAFDAC.
This is not one of those business you can start and get people buying without NAFDAC certification. Without a NAFDAC registration number, it would be difficult to convince people to buy your product.
In addition to NAFDAC, you also need to register your business name with Corporate Affairs. This process is relatively easier than NAFDAC registration. Lastly, you should looking into registering your trademark and getting approval from SON.
Remember when I said tomato processing is capital-intensive? This is the aspect that makes it so. Some of the basic machinery you would need for tomato paste processing include: Fruit washer, fine pulper, storage tank, boiler, fruit mill, seal machine, steam pressure reducing station, etc.
4. Business plan.
For tomato processing, a business plan is a very important tool especially if you don’t have the financial capacity to start the business by yourself. You will need a business plan to apply for and secure loans and grants to start off your business. Also, a business plan is important to determine the long-term viability of the business.
Tomato processing is not only good for the entrepreneur, it is good for the economy of the country, feeding of the nation and agriculture in general. I encourage you to get in while the getting is still good.