NIGERIA. Kaduna State: The West Africa Trade and Investment Hub (Trade Hub) has disclosed that it has made available a $1.2 million (N494 million) co-investment grant to Tomato Jos Farming and Processing Limited (Toma Jos).
The acting Chief of Party, Karl Littlejohn said that the grant, which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will assist in enhancing maize and soybeans production in Kaduna state.
Kaduna state which is said to be home to about one-third of a million farmers, the majority of whom are into both maize and soybeans farming, Nigeria’s main crops.
“Domestic production of these grains is gradually failing to meet the high market demand because of numerous limitations faced by the farmers, including outdated farming techniques, limited awareness of the market quality demand and lack of funds to improve their farming practices”, Littlejohn said.
To have a lasting solution to the aforementioned problems, it is said that Tomato Jos will use its grant and roughly N3.3 billion of private funds to start a three-year maize and soybeans out-grower programme in northern Nigeria.
“The project will benefit 4,000 smallholder farmers who will work as out-growers, also known as contract farmers with Tomato Jos. 60 per cent of the out-growers will be women and at least 40 per cent youths”, Littlejohn added.
Littlejohn also stated that; “4,000 smallholders will be educated on state-of-the-art farming approaches to make sure crop quality and production increases.
“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”.
Founder of Tomato Jos, Mira Mehta said that it would leverage private investments to finance smallholder farmers is key to driving inclusive economic growth in the Northern part of Nigeria.
The co-investment will be used to assist Tomato Jos in enhancing its business.
The company will also be able to extend its hand if storage for grains, improved inputs for greater yields and increase its model farm and out-grower programmes to more locations for maize and soybeans farming.
Littlejohn said, “Nigeria has seen its outputs of maize and soybean decline in recent years and efforts to counter this has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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,” Littlejohn added.