Producing Food All Year…
This is the smartest way to practicing dry season farming in Nigeria. We should get to the point that when defining poverty in Nigeria, food shouldn’t be used as a metric.
One of the smartest ways to farm all year – both rainy and dry season is hydroponics. Hydroponics is a type of agriculture that involves growing plants without the use of soil. That is removing the soil and providing every other factors that the plants need – the biotic and the abiotic factors. In the olden days, to get food done, people used firewood. Many year later, people started using stove. Then electric and gas cookers came in as modern ways of cooking our food. The bottom line is to get food done, we need heat. This means that we can remove firewood and we can still generate heat from stove, electric and gas cooker. As long as there is heat, the food will get cooked.
The same way, we understood over time that the function of soil is to encourage the roots of plants to keep water and aeration. This means that we can remove the soil components, bring in any other material that can play similar role and the plants will grow. This is what we call Soilless Farming.
Advantages soilless farming have over soil based farming;
1. Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA):
The impact of climate change is on the rise daily. CSA ensures that the system of farming is climate smart. We must get to a point where our method of food production must be healthy for the farmers, consumers and safe for our environment.
2. It is non-seasonal in its method:
One of the reasons why food is still expensive today is because we depend on seasons to produce. So there is a time tomatoes is cheap when is in season. There are times it becomes expensive when it’s not in season. Soilless farming ensure food production is possible all year round.
3. It’s more cheap:
For a soil based farmer, when fertilizers are applied to the soil, the rain may wash it off or pushed the fertilizers so deep into the ground that the plant cannot assess it. This means every time a soil based farmer applies a bag of fertilizer on his farm, two-thirds of that money is either washed away or pushed too deep into the ground that it even contaminates the soil water. Apart from you throwing away money, you are also poisoning the place where plants are growing – poisoning the water source. In soilless farming, whatever nutrient is supplied to the plant does not waste. You get value for every penny you spend.
4. It’s done in a controlled environment:
You don’t have to wait for a good or bad weather. You’re in charge of the weather. This ensures that there’s nowhere you can’t grow plants. You only need to get the weather to what the plant requires then, you can grow it. The way to do that is by using greenhouses, net-houses or screenhouses depending on what you’re trying to control.
5. It’s prevent pathogens:
Most pathogens that affect plants are soil borne. When you take them out by removing the soil, you have completely defeated those pathogens.
6. No need of large expanse of land:
In Nigeria, we usually believe that there’s enough land. It’s true but we do not have enough fertile land. At the northern part of the Nigeria, we have desertification. At the southern part, we have coastal encroachment. When you move to the middle-belt, there are pockets of crisis. South-south states have a whole lot of oil spillage not to add deforestation and other activities. This means there is a huge competition for land.
The age of the average farmer is about 60 years. We want the youth to come in but the youths want to come to civilization.
With soilless farming we can bring farm to the city that fits the definition of civilization. Now we can close that gap. In Nigeria where most of our roads have become death trap, farmers that have their farmland somewhere far are going to lose some during transportation. This is because of bad road, bad storage. If we have that farm in the city, we have closed the gap between the markets and the farm. By doing that we have increased the profitability for the farmer. We have increased the income of the farmer because we are able to plant on many layers. If you had a plot of land, you can have five layers .
How many of the soil based farmers do soil test before they start planting. How do such farmers know exactly what the soil or plant need for it proper growth and development? It’s like visiting a clinic and you get drugs without proper examination.
Tomatoes as one of the major vegetables we consume, one of the crucial things in tomatoes is as antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene is able to prevent prostate cancer in men. Despite we eat so much tomatoes, why is there an increase in prostate cancer amongst men? then there is something wrong with our tomatoes. And what is wrong with the tomatoes from the farm cannot be corrected in the kitchen.
This means from the onset you must give the plants the right nutrients and environment for it to thrive. The fastest way to help the population to overcome poverty is to help the farmers. And you cannot help the farmers without giving them the right tools. One of such tools is soilless farming because now the farmer can go to the farm and come back early. The system is healthy for him and the process is also healthy for the consumer.
Farming should not be a seasonal thing because hunger is not seasonal. Soilless farming can help in the consistent production of food.