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The local production of tomato paste in the country received a huge boost when Tomato Jos, an African agricultural production company, secured Series A round funding of EUR 3.9 million (N1.83 billion) through a consortium of investment firms, who are focused on providing support for small and growing businesses in Africa.

This series A funding is to help position Tomato Jos to further improve the lives and incomes of smallholder farmers and increase the sustainability and stability of food supply in Nigeria.

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The funding round was led by Goodwell Investments, through its West Africa partner, Aliyheia Capital with participation from Acumen Capital Partners and VestedWorld.

Tomato Jos was founded by Mira Mehta in 2014 with the vision to create and retain local value add to the tomato value chain, reduce post-harvest losses, and improve the lives of smallholder farmers. Since its inception, Tomato Jos has focused on securing its supply chain through primary production.

(READ MORE: Nigeria’s food security, GDP growth hinge on financial inclusion of farmers)

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The secured EUR 3.9 million Series A funding boosts the transition to its next stage of growth i.e. the processing and distribution of tomato products. The agricultural firm will work with thousands of smallholder farmers on over 2,600 hectares of land, putting more than $1 million of direct income into the local economy each year

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According to the founder and CEO of Tomato Jos, Mira Mehta, ‘’Processing has always been the plan for Tomato Jos, but to get there, we spent a long five years working only on farming and primary production to make sure that we had a really solid foundation in place’’. 

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‘’Everyone at the company is extremely excited to take this big step forward into the world of food processing and value-add production’’.

Although Nigeria is the second-largest producer of tomatoes in Africa, farming inefficiencies create a demand-supply gap resulting in Nigeria also being one of the biggest importers of tomato paste in the world.

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A partner at Alitheia, Mobola da-Silva, ‘’Tomato Jos has chosen the right market, business model, and management to succeed as a truly inclusive business within this management. As an agro-processing company that sources from local smallholder farmers and provides access to finance in the form of farming inputs to farmers, Tomato Jos is a good fit for uMunyhu’s inclusive strategy of investing in agribusiness’’. 

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Tomato Jos, through its initiatives and connecting local farmers to domestic consumers, has helped smallholder farmers’ average yield to grow by over 340% from 5 to 22 metric tons per hectare, while their average income increased by 455%.

(READ MORE: Emefiele insists CBN will not sell forex for importation of items produced in Nigeria)

CrossBoundary provided advisory support to this transaction through USAID’s INVEST program, funded by USAID Southern and Eastern Africa Regional Missions in support of the US Government’s Prosper Africa initiative.

The MD of Acumen Capital Partners said, ‘’Acumen Capital Partners is thrilled to join Tomato Jos’ Investors to help the company continue to develop a world-class vertically integrated tomato processing operation in Nigeria. Tomato Jos is positioned not only to locally produce tomato paste, which is mainly imported into Nigeria but to help Nigerian smallholder farmers increase their income by increasing their yield by 3-4x’’.

This is a huge boost to the country achieving self-sufficiency in tomato paste production as although Nigeria is one of the biggest producers of tomato in the continent, it is still one of the largest importers of tomato paste in the world.

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It can also be recalled that in February 2020, Dangote Tomato Processing Company officially resumed the production of tomato paste after initial hiccups and suspension of operations. This was due to the inadequacy of raw materials.

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