Common Food Crops in Nigeria


Common Food Crops in Nigeria

In some less developed countries in general, and in Nigeria particularly, tomatoes and pepper form a very important part of ingredients used regularly- a crucial part of the diet in many homes. The fruits of tomatoes are used for salad, vegetables and in canning industries. They are also used for the preparation of tomato sauces and tomato juice. Tomato is an important source of vitamins and is therefore crucial to a balanced diet. Due to their importance, they are grown in every state of this country, most especially during the early part of the dry season.


Tomato has a large variety of cultivated type suited to many different environments. These varieties have local names and have common varieties like mar globe, money maker marred, valiant pork best of all, dwarf gem, and many others.


Improved varieties

a. NH Le 158-3-local indeterminate big red fruits, big red fruits, suitable for planting in both northern and southern states.

b. NH Le 7-7-1 local indeterminate pink fruits and highly tolerant of diseases.

c. Ife No.1 - determinate round red fruits-suitable for planting in bulk north and south.

d. Ibadan Local -indefenninate plant. Big pink fruits. Well adapted to Rainforest zone.

e. Roma VF –determinate, pear-shaped, red fruit.

Suitable for planting in the north, and during dry season in the south.


Climatic and Soil Requirements

Tomato is a warm season crop. High temperature and high humidity favour foliage production but hot dry conditions result in the dropping of flowers and foliage. 

Tomato requires high light intensity, because this influences the ascorbic acid content. If light is low, ascorbic acid content will be equally low. Tomato requires well drained loamy soil that is rich in humus. Heavy and water logged soils should be avoided, the crop tolerate high acidity, and as such, liming is not recommended unless the pH is 5 or lower.

Cultural Practices

Let us discuss at the following common practices related to the cultivation of tomatoes.

1. Bed fumigation:  If is usual to treat nursery soil moisture with fumigant to kill pests, fungi weed, etc. which may be in the soil. VAPAM is recommended at the rate of 1dm3 to 20dm2 of water per bed of 1m x 10m; when used, wet soil heavily to a depth of 15cm and cover with palm fronts. Do not sow seeds until 9-10 days after treatment. In the absence of fumigants, apply heat removing the ash.

2. Nursery preparation: Nursery can be prepared on the ground, or alternatively in boxes, and baskets. For ground nursery, the land should be tilled very well- to a depth of 38cm, and the bed neatly prepared; but for nursery in baskets or shallow boxes the containers are filled with mixture of:

i. Three parts of good top soil

ii. Two parts of well rooted compost

iii. One part fine river sand; the three must be properly mixed together.

3. Sowing in the nursery: Seeds are planted singly 2.5cm to 5cm apart and 2.5cm to 5cm between rows. Press the seed into the soil, but not more than 0.5cm deep and cover seeds lightly with fine loose soil. The boxes are then placed in sheltered position out of rain and sun. Water daily, using a can with fine hose. The seeds will germinate in about 5 to 7 days, and then transplant in about 6 weeks.

4. Shading and watering: Provide shade in the nursery to protect seedlings from hot sun and heavy rain; but be sure you water the seedlings every morning. Reduce quality and frequency of watering during hardening of seedlings. Generally, water should be moderate because over watering may make plant soft, and susceptible to diseases.

5. Transplanting: After making a good bed, the seedlings are well-watered before transplanting- to bind soil to the root. Seedlings should be removed singly with ball of earth; and as far as possible, minimize damage to root system.

Transplanting should be done under cool weather, or preferably in the evenings. After transplanting, the seedlings are watered and very tender ones are lightly shaded to reduce excessive light intensity. It is usual to plant tomatoes in double rows of 45cm to 60cm apart, with plants 30cm -38cm apart in the row.

6. Weeding and staking: Weeding is an essential practice after transplanting. The crop does not tolerate competition with weeds. Weeding should be done as need arises. Weeds reduce yield and attract pests and diseases. Stake, immediately, after planting to reduce damage (by wind) to roots and stems. Do not allow the stems to drop on the ground for these increases the chances of destruction by crickets and other soil pests.

7. Fertilizer application: Tomatoes respond very well to fertilizers, particularly, those applied in liquid form and both potash and nitrogen are essential to stimulate initial growth. Apply 15: 15: 15 mixed fertilizer at 340kg to 680kg around 4-6 weeks after transplanting.

8. Harvesting and storage: Fruits are ready for harvest about 3 to 4 months after planting. Harvest when half ripe and then wrap in soft paper to ripen fully. The fruits harvested when half ripe give best flavour and firmness. Yield varies from 7.5 to 10 tonnes per hectare depending on the variety.

Tomatoes cannot be kept for too long, when just harvested. They are best stored in processed form. Harvesting when half-ripe helps to preserve the fruit until when it will be taken to the market.

The fruits should be stored dry and no damaged fruits should be stored along with healthy ones.

Read On: Environmental Factors Affecting Agricultural Production

Pests and diseases of tomatoes

Tomatoes have many pests and these include mole insects, caterpillars, grasshopper, eelworms, fruit worms, etc. These can be controlled by hand picking- in the case of caterpillars, by digging up crickets and also by using insecticides. D.D.T. is used for pre-fruiting treatment and vefox 85 wip is used from the fruiting stage.

There are four major diseases of tomato as shown below:

1. Fusarium wilt [root rot]- this is a fungal disease caused by fusarium oxysporium. This attacks young seedlings and causes it to wilt. Control is mainly by the use of resistant varieties.

2. Bacterial wilt- this is a disease which attacks solanaceous crops at almost all stages of their development, causing rapid wilting of the leaves, followed by the death of the whole plant. The disease is soil-borne, and it attacks roots. Control is by removing all infected plants and burning them, immediately, to reduce the spread of the disease.

3. Leaf spots and blight- these are wide spread during raining season; viral spots of various sizes and colours occur on petioles and stems of leaves. The older leaves become yellow and die as the infection progress upwards to young leaves. Control is by spraying with Dithame m - 45 or coprantol of Bordeaux mixture.

4. Other diseases- other common tomato diseases are physiological disorder brought about by unfavourable growing conditions and root knot diseases, which is caused by nematodes.


Peppers (Capscum species)

These are popularly grown in every tropical country and they provide the chief species of the hotter parts of the world. Peppers are species, which are popularly used for making soups in Nigerian homes, for instance. Many varieties exist due to their ability to adapt to different environments.

They belong to two species:

1. Capsicum annum (sweet pepper)

2. Capsicum frutescent (hot pepper).


Climatic and Soil Requirements

The two species are grown in most parts of Nigeria. The fruits of Capsicum annum are larger than those of Capsicum frutescent.

- The fruits vary in shape, size, colour, flavour and hotness.

- Pepper can grow on many classes of soil- from light sand to clay, but they are best grown on well-drained soil.

- They can also survive various changes.

- The best soil is in a well-drained, light loamy soil which is rich in lime, and then a rainfall of 650 – 130mm is required.



A seed-bed is constructed in a shady area, preferably near water. Planting is done by scattering viable seeds on the seed beds after the soil has been sterilised or sprayed with Dittane m-45. Germination takes place in 6-10 days. 

The developing seedlings are transplanted after 4-6 weeks when they are between 10 to13cm high.

Newly transplanted seedlings should be watered daily, until the roots are firmly established in the soil. A spacing of 60 to 90cm apart can be maintained. Weeding of the farmland is important, at least, twice in the dry season and thrice in wet seasons. 

A mulch of dead grass and leaves could be used to cover the soil around the plants, when necessary. Pepper plants will benefit from the application of organic manure of about 2.5kg per m2 .  In the absence of organic manure, inorganic fertilizer can be applied in a ring- about 10cm away from the base of each plant.


Pests and Diseases

- Peppers are attacked by pests and diseases.

- The major pests are birds and nematodes.

- Birds are attracted by the bright-coloured ripened fruits, and then, the fruits are pecked off. 

- Nematodes stunt the growth of infected plants, causing leaves to turn yellow before the plant eventually dies.

- Nematode can be controlled by applying a chemical called MOCAP granules.

- Viruses cause two diseases of pepper-these are mosaic and leaf curl.

- The infected plants have wrinkled leaves and stunted growth.

- The diseases can be controlled by uprooting and burning infected plants.

- Draping off can be controlled by sterilising the soil, before planting begins.

- Leaf spot can be controlled by nursery (with a chemical called dithane) on a weekly basis.


Harvesting and Storage

Fruits are ready for harvest 3-4 months after planting; handpick the ready peppers. Then the harvested fruits are treated with hot water for about 30 minutes, after which they are dried. After drying, the fruits can either be crushed into powder and sold or stored.


Peppers are used as condiments for the preparation of stews, soups and for preparing curry powders for seasoning foods. Peppers are good sources of vitamins A, C, and E. In Nigeria, Capsicum annum is grown, primarily, for export.

Read On: Importance of Agricultural Production

Conclusion on Common Food Crops in Nigeria

Tomatoes and peppers are very important ingredients for making stews, soups in, virtually all Nigerian homes, and they both thrive well in loamy soil. Yield can be improved with the application of either organic or inorganic fertilizer. Both crops are cultivated via the seed; and they are susceptible to being attacked by pests and diseases.

We really described accurately how tomato and pepper are cultivated and harvested. It has also revealed why staking is very necessary during the cultivation of tomatoes and highlighted the importance of both crops.

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