Time for tomato bloom using greenhouse technology
It is a new dawn for the farmer, the small-scale folk, at least. Now, the high-cost, high-tech Greenhouse, which had been a farm technology out of reach, is now tailored to fit the budget of the small farmer and unemployed youths.
The beauty of it is that Dizengoff Nigeria, an organisation reputed in agricultural technology over so many decades, has packaged what it calls the Dizengoff farmers Kit (DFK). It comes along with installation, training and technical support.
Not in the sense of a handy kit, but an under-the-roof farm that could snugly fit into a standard plot of land with extra space left. In this specifically developed unit, farmers everywhere, especially in the rainy southern belt can deploy this technology to prove that fresh tomatoes could be profitably grown all year round.
In the controlled environment, as in the greenhouse, Mr. Oscar Walumbe, Integrated Project Manager – Sustainable Livelihoods, said “the kit yields up to four tonnes of tomatoes in a six-month season from a single (8m x 24m) greenhouse.
“In comparison, the traditional open field tomato cultivation with best agricultural practices yields a maximum of seven tonnes per hectare.”
By extrapolation, 19 times more tomatoes can be grown in one hectare with the kit than the traditional open field cultivation.
At the media field day in Lagos, Walumbe said the greenhouse limits the devastating effects of insect pests and diseases that ravage vegetables including tomatoes. “It is not rain-fed but brain-fed, as it comes complete with a customised drip irrigation system. With little amount of land space and water, you are sure to get a yield far higher than your traditional open field production,” he assured.
Oscar explained, “Nigeria consumes over 2.3 million tonnes of tomatoes annually, while it currently produces about 1.8 million tonnes locally. However, only 50 per cent (0.9 million tonnes) of the produce makes it from farm to fork, thereby creating an immediate gap of 1.4 million tonnes to filled. This gap in essentially filled via importation, a scenario, which puts more pressure on the demand for the already scarce foreign reserve.
Also speaking at the media field day, the Marketing Communications Manager, Humphrey Otalor, said the kit offers good employment opportunity for Nigerians, both directly and indirectly. He projected that it could create about 1000 jobs directly and indirectly in the next two years with the participation from both the private and public sectors.
Otalor said there is always market for good quality produce, especially the type that comes from the greenhouse kit. Beyond tomatoes, other vegetables such as pepper, cucumber, watermelon, sweet melon, okra and the like could grown.
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