Nigeria: Metropolitan farmers in Lagos, Ogun embrace greenhouse farming to increase food production
London, Dec 20, 2019 (AltAfrica)-As the gap in efforts to produce enough food to feed the country’s increasing population continues to widen, experts have severally called for the innovation of agriculture through the adoption of technology-driven solutions as the only way to achieve sufficiency.
One of the technologies that have been identified to easily bridge the food gap is greenhouse farming technology. A farming technique that enables increased high-quality products all year round
The technique, which is being championed by Dizengof Nigeria, also referred to as “Farmer’s Kit,” is a greenhouse production package consisting of a greenhouse, drip irrigation system and high yielding highbred seeds.
The package includes the use of soluble fertiliser, agrochemicals, nursery sets, farmer’s sprayers, and personal protective clothing. It also includes planting bags and sheets; all complimented with farmer’s training and agro support services.
The technology is being adopted by many farmers, especially metropolitan farmers around Lagos and Ogun states, where the canopy-shaped greenhouses could be found dotting several farms.
During a visit to some of these locations, it was observed that many farmers have adopted the greenhouse technology in producing different varieties of fresh high-quality vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, and cucumber.
At Sedfort Farms in Ogun State, one of the farms that use the greenhouse technique in producing vegetables, Dokun Ogunbodede appraised the method from his experience so far as very commendable.
According to him, “growing crops using greenhouse is a very wise decision. It is a method that enables you to grow more with less space.”
Ekun Oladavids, an agronomist at another farm in Epe, Lagos State, operating over 12 greenhouse units, said the farm acquired additional 10 greenhouse units from last year to strengthen its production capacity.
“We do two to six crop cycles depending on the crop type with the greenhouse technique in three years,” he disclosed. For Zara F1 (high breed tomatoes) for instance, it’s possible to have five to six crop cycles within a year.
Giving the insight to crop yield on the average, he disclosed that the farm harvests about 60kg to 70kg pepper and 50kg tomatoes on the average weekly and they make good sales on all produce.
“We harvest 60kg to 70kg pepper and 50kg weekly and demand for what we produce from our farm here is high. Demand for Ball pepper (Falkor1), Hot pepper (Super Habanero F1) and tomatoes (Eva F1 and Zara F1) is very high.”
The story is not any different during a visit to Ecology Golden Multifunctional Farm in Ikise, Off Omu-Ijebu Road, in Ogun state, where Akeem Owokoniran is a farm manager.
“We started seven months ago with this farming technique to produce peppers and tomatoes. It has been so interesting what we have been able to do and in terms of what we are producing using the greenhouse technique, so far so good.”
He however disclosed that although there were initial problems of getting uptake for its produce when the farm first started to produce. “We didn’t get our marketing right initially, but of course every start-up like ours does have such issues at first.
“We had issues getting customers to take up our produce at first because we were not known. We learned very fast and I can tell you that at the moment we are not doing badly at all.”
Another very interesting observation during the visit was the issue of management and integration. Greenhouse farming like any other business must be managed properly Oscar Walumbe of Dizengoff told journalists during the visit.
“It is a technique which with good management provides a steady income for the farmer as well as the transfer of knowledge on how to improve the quality of their products, reduce field losses as well as ensure a higher profit on their investment.”
He noted that one of the ways the farmer can ensure a steady flow of income is to integrate open farming into operation of the greenhouse. This he counseled is to maximize the use of available space with the planting of other crops that can be harvested during the period of waiting. Ecology Golden Multifunctional Farm seemed to be in sync with this message.
Besides the very clean surroundings which ensure the reduction of the possibility of the invasion of pests and diseases the farm has other crops like yams, high breed cashew crops and vegetables planted in the available open field.