There is a growing interest in greenhouse farming. Experts say with a little effort, one can start a greenhouse that will enhance the environment and bring in profits. DANIEL ESSIET reports.
To manage the challenges of rainfall, degraded land and decreasing land sizes, farmers have been urged to go for greenhouse.
Making the call, Dizengoff Nigeria’s Integrated Project Manager, Sustainable Livelihoods, Mr. Oscar Walumbe, said acquiring a greenhouse is a most satisfying endeavour.
He spoke to reporters at the company’s media field day in Lagos.
Walumbe said a greenhouse, a protected space for growing vegetables, plants and crops, is a prime real estate, so one should choose crops to maximise profits and produce crops that don’t do well outside .
He said one advantage of using greenhouse is that farmers can grow vegetables and crops at any time of the year – when they can’t be grown outdoors. This is because it allows them to extend the seasons and produce a wide range of vegetables.
Greenhouse cultivation, he said, enables farmers to grow their crops under optimised and standardised conditions, which protects the plants from pests and bad weather.
He advised farmers using greenhouse to grow out-of-season crops such as tomatoes, lettuce, basil, and other vegetables where they can command high prices in the market.
In choosing what type of plants to grow for profit, Walumbe advised that one must figure out the right combination of profitable plant varieties, sizes, and quantities.
Walumbe said: “Our greenhouse is essentially a controlled environment limiting the devastating effects of insect pests and diseases that ravage vegetables including tomatoes. It is not rain-fedbut 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.”
Oscar continued: “Nigeria consumes over 2.3 million tonnes of tomatoes annually, while it produces about 1.8 million tonnes locally. However, only 50 percent (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 US dollars. Nigerians can now leverage on the immense opportunity offered by the Dizengoff Farmers’ Kit so we can limit the foreign exchange spent on importing tomatoes annually while also providing employment for our teeming but unemployed youths”.
Though people think greenhouse farming is too expensive, he believes it seems so because of the initial investment in buying the materials for the structure which could run up to N1.5 million.
He explained, however, that the expenses are easily offset by the high yields that a farmer makes from the investment. The Marketing Communications Manager, Dizengoff Nigeria, Humphrey Otalor, said: “As a company, we see the huge employment opportunity the greenhouse has created for Nigerians, both directly and indirectly and we believe that with participation from both the private and public sectors, the DFK will create about 1000 jobs directly and indirectly in the next 2 years”.
He added: “Our strategy in bridging the gap in tomatoes production is to ensure that farming is made attractive even among our youths, through modern technology with the greenhouse farming concept and access to quality inputs and technical support. We know that there are readily available markets for the quality of tomatoes produces in our greenhouses.”
Source: The Nation