GREENHOUSE TECHNOLOGY- AVENUE TO UNLOCK NIGERIA’S AGRIC POTENTIALS
L-R: Humphrey Otalor, Marketing Communications Manager, Dizengoff Nigeria; Antti Ritvonen, Country Manager/CEO, Digenzoff Nigeria, Oscar Walumbe, Integrated Project Manager and Olatunde Agoro, CEO, Latag Venture Farms, during a media tour of the Dizengoff greenhouse farm in Lagos.
Greenhouse technology- avenue to unlock Nigeria’s agric potentials
Since about 10 years ago, climate change has resulted in delayed rainfall, sometimes heavy rainfall, or too little rainfall. Not only do these pose food security challenges to Nigeria and other countries still heavily dependent on rain-fed farming but farmers incur heavy losses. As a result, so many investors, bankers and other creditors still hesitate in making the decisions to invest in farming.
Therefore farming business is still predominantly like a big gamble in Nigeria and many other Sub-Saharan African countries – You win if it rains and shine as at when due or you lose if does not. Of course, serious-minded people do not gamble with their money.
But there is now a means of farming that eliminates the unexpected and inexplicable changes in weather conditions as a result of climate change. It can be described as brain-fed, climate smart or precision agriculture. It is the use of greenhouses with drip irrigation, treated soil and water to grow crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet melon, water melon etc.
Based on the experience of farmers who have invested in this greenhouse technology within the country, Dizengoff, a company committed to bridging the gap in the production of tomatoes in Nigeria with its greenhouse technological concept assuredly maintains that investors/farmers can recoup their investment in the first to second year.
According to Oscar Walumbe, the company’s Integrated Project Manager – Sustainable Livelihoods, the farmer can have four different cropping seasons because environmental factors would not interfere with production. That means they do not have to worry about the impact of delayed or excessive rainfall.
Walumbe who spoke at a media parley in Lagos on April 20, this year 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-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”. Walumbe also explained that not only the very big investors can invest in greenhouses but the small investors also can have one or more greenhouses installed in a small piece of land even in their backyards. One major advantage with greenhouses is that farmers can plan to harvest at a time when such crops are scarce in the market and get better bargain.
Speaking further, Walumbe said “Nigeria consumes over 2.3 million tonnes of tomatoes annually, while it currently produces about 1.8 million tonnes locally. However, only 50percent (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.” Walumbe pointed out that Nigerians can now leverage on the immense opportunity offered by the Dizengoff Farmers’ Kit to create wealth for themselves while also providing employment for the teeming but unemployed youths.
The Dizengoff farmers Kit (DFK) is a technology which was specifically developed to enable farmers produce high quality, fresh tomatoes all year round anywhere in Nigeria. The kit yields up to 4 tonnes of tomatoes in a 6-month season from a single (8m x 24m or 192m2) greenhouse; in comparison, the traditional open field tomato cultivation with best agricultural practices yields a maximum of 7 tonnes per hectare (10,000m2). Clearly, the DFK replicated over one hectare yields at least 19 times more tomatoes than the traditional open field cultivation.
Also speaking at the media field day, 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 amongst 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”.
Dizengoff Nigeria is a member of the Balton CP Group UK, with presence in Sub-Saharan Africa (Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria). In Nigeria, the company was established in 1958, making it 58 years of operations in Nigeria. Dizengoff has two major divisions- Agriculture and Communications Technology.