What You Can Learn from Nigeria's 'Tomato Crisis'

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lessons from Nigeria's Tomato Crisis

Nigeria is currently facing a crisis of widespread tomato shortages. The country experienced a drastic drop in tomato production due to an infestation of the tomato leafminer (tuta absoluta) pest. As a result of the shortages, the price of tomatoes in the country has skyrocketed, and the economic cost of the losses on farmers has been very high ( $5.1 million.)

The crop damage is so drastic that one of the country's northern states (Kaduna) recently declared a state of emergency. The shortage tomatoes is affecting the local processing of tomatoes into paste, forcing some processors to suspend operations. You see, tomatoes are very important in Nigeria. They are the most widely grown and consumed vegetable in the country and are used in most of the local dishes.

So what is this tomato leafminer, you ask?

How to Grow, Harvest and Market Onion in Zimbabwe

Thursday, May 12, 2016


Winter is coming that means it's time to pick cool-weather crops to grow, harvest and market.

A good option to pick to grow commercially is the onion. Onions are one of the most useful, versatile and popular vegetables. They are used widely in all types of local cooking and are a staple in every household. They also store well which helps reduce post-harvest losses, while giving you extra time to market them. 

Local market demand for onions in Zimbabwe is currently not met by domestic production and is usually supplemented by imports from South Africa. There is clearly room to consider adding onions as your main or supplemental winter crop.

We are going to break down how to select the right onion type for your climate and location, plant on time, improve your soil and practice good farming practices to get a good and profitable onion crop.

Ready to start onion farming? Let's get started...

Types and Varieties

Fresh-market onions (Allium cepa) come in different bulb shapes (globe, top or spindle-shaped), sizes (small to large) and skin colours (red, white and yellow).

The number one key to growing a good onion crop is selecting the right onion cultivar for your geographic area. Onions are grouped by the number of daylight hours they need to form bulbs. Onion varieties are classified according to their day length requirement: short-day, intermediate-day or long-day length.

Short-day varieties: form bulbs when they receive 10-12 hours of daylight. These varieties are best suited to Zimbabwe because of the short summer days and low latitude of the country.  Short-day varieties are usually Grano or Granex types. An example of a short-day variety is 'Texas Early Grano'.

Intermediate-day varieties: form bulbs with 12-14 hours of daylight. They are also known as day-neutral. They need a long growing season but not long days. An example of an intermediate-day variety is 'Candy'.

Long-day varieties: need 14-16 hours of daylight to form bulbs. An example of a long-day variety is 'Walla Walla'.

Onions can also be grouped based on their sulfur content. Pungent varieties contain more sulfur, which makes them keep longer in storage and produce more tears when you cut them. Sweet varieties don't have as much sulfur and need to be used sooner after harvest.

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