By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos.
Efforts of the federal government at boosting the agricultural sector for food sufficiency would soon receive a leap, as plans have been concluded by a Nigerian entrepreneur to introduce hydroponic farming into the country.
The system, when in operation, will afford farmers to plant and grow crops that can not ordinarily grow on Nigerian soil at an affordable cost without stress.
Addressing a press conference Tuesday in Lagos on the farming system, the Chief Executive Officer of Lynphyl Homes Limited, Philip Okpala disclosed that he has concluded arrangement with the Institute of Hydroponic Farming and Research, Canada to bring into Nigeria the best in farming technology in order to boost food production.
He explained that hydroponic is the cultivation of plants, using water and nutrients solutions, rather than soil, adding that plant roots are suspended in specially formulated clay pellets and bathed with liquid nutrients.
” The nutrients in hydroponic systems are taken up directly into the root system therefore allowing plants to focus more of its time on growing and producing more fruit rather than growing deep roots in search of water and soil bound nutrients.
The major advantage of hydroponic gardening is its ability to grow in a controlled environment and grow larger yielding crops in a shorter amount of time. Grow rates of hydroponically grown plants are typically 30-50%.”, the international business expert explained.
According to him, with the help of hydroponics, a farmer can easily grow any fruit or vegetable year round, no matter the environmental condition that exists and that the farming system is completely pesticide and herbicide free.
Speaking further, he said ” You can control the temperature of the farm from anywhere in the world, there is restriction or limitation to the size of farm. For Nigeria to be competitive in the international market, hydroponic is the way to go, the yield is more than thetraditional farming and you grow round the year. Also, there is traditional way of getting to know if the farm is getting enough nutrient because there will be coloration of the leaves”.
Okpala explained further that the exclusive difference between traditional farming and hydroponic farming is soil, saying, ” With traditional farming, growing seeds are planted, they build a root system, then obtain water and nutrients from the soil. In hydroponic farming, plants are anchored in water to allow the roots to access nutrients”.
He explained further that hydroponically grown plants require less land surface since they are grown in a built greenhouse set up, and that the plants can be placed in greenhouses that use space in an efficient way, or plants can be grown in virtually any indoor location wherever there is power to operate the automated watering and feeding system.
Since hydroponic farming ensures no use of soil and thus there is no soil erosion, Okpala hinted that the absence of soil, a bacteria growth media, reduces disease that could spread and cause crop failure.
Asserting that hydroponic farming is on its way to becoming a viable future for agriculture and farmers around the world, the lawyer cum business entrepreneur said Nigeria can not afford to be left behind, adding that the future for hydroponic systems appears more positive today than anytime over the last 50 years, becoming increasing popular especially in the United States, Canada, Western Europe and parts of Japan.
While fielding questions from journalists, Okpala hinted that his organisation is bring some experts from Canada that would source for nutrient locally in order to reduce cost of importation.