Tomato Gold: The Story of Faith Okeyedun
My name is Faith Okeyedun, and I had the opportunity to be enrolled in school thanks to my parents’ meager income. They worked hard so that I could have an education, but our joy was short-lived due to my lack of employment. I opted to go into agriculture full-time. I started cultivating indigenous leafy vegetables in and around my house. Unfortunately, my parents were aging and I became saddled with the responsibility of taking care of my siblings. Because of this, my expectation of financial sustainability was not fulfilled as my vegetable business suffered from poor yield, low patronage, and discouraging income.
The answer to my prayer came when I encountered the 2SCALE project barely a year ago. I was involved in a series of activities and training in modern best practices in vegetable business. Having discovered opportunities in cultivating improved seeds of fruit vegetables, particularly tomato, I applied all the techniques and knowledge acquired into my new venture. I immediately realized great results, which translated to a more than 300 percent income increase from farming the same land size (compared to farming my indigenous leafy vegetables) and over 10 times yield compared to using local tomato seeds and methods. Fortunately for me, my first harvest coincided with the time tomato prices skyrocketed in Nigeria due to scarcity. That helped me greatly to earn tens of thousands of Naira. I now have direct access to markets and inputs, as 2SCALE is involved in a network that connected me with both input dealers and traders. The coaching activities I have attended through the project have also increased my business and technical skills. I have trained over 30 young farmers in the same trade in the past few months. They are working hard to replicate the same benefits I have attained within a short period.
In my family, we used to use firewood to cook, but now we can afford gas due to an improvement in my financial status. I can now help my siblings in their education pursuits.
Faith now coordinates the activities of vegetable cluster farmers in his locality and has turned to a model for others to follow. Having successfully mastered open field cultivation of tomato, he is now looking at scaling up his production to many acres next year, and incorporating the use of irrigation facilities and a screen house. Faith Okeyedun is one of hundreds of farmers who have benefited from 2SCALE in Oyo to initiate and expand hybrid tomato cultivation and other vegetables. In addition, the project has also helped in developing the vegetable value chain through training and retraining, stakeholders’ meetings, and coaching activities.
An interview with Faith Okeyedun can be watched below: