Nigeria’s local farmers not ready for `hydroponic farming’ — agric expert

Nigeria's local farmers not ready for `hydroponic farming’ — agric expert

An agriculture expert, Mr Ismail Olawale, has called for caution in the adoption of hydroponic farming system in Nigeria, saying “local farmers are not ready for it’’.

Olawale, a Development Communication expert at the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) made the call in an interview with newsmen on Tuesday in Lagos.

iBrandTV gathered that in hydroponic farming and hydroponic systems, the soil is replaced with nutrient-rich water instead.

It is the responsibility of the hydroponic farmer to manage and maintain optimal nutrient levels in the liquid solution, as well as the frequency of supplying the nutrients to plants.

Hydroponic systems also conveniently side-step a lot of the issues faced by traditional farming.

The expert said local farmers were not ready for the adoption of the farming system because of the technicalities involved in the process.

According to him, hydroponic farming is literature based and there are a lot of empirical studies where it has been put to practice and it has been very successful.

“There are major criteria why a country will go for hydroponic farming practice as alternative to dependence on rain-fed agriculture practice.

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“Criteria such as the lack of available land space, non-arable or fertile land and specificity in cultivating some types of crop determine the adoption of hydroponic farming.

“However, in the Nigerian case, it suffices to say that hydroponic farming may not be the right alternative to a rain-fed agriculture system because of the technicalities involved in it.

“Hydroponic farming requires a lot of energy, fund, time and sensitive system to be applied. For instance our local farmers go to their farm once daily but hydroponic farming is time-intensive,” the expert said.

Olawale, however, called for a specific agriculture policy to guide the adoption of hydroponic farming system in the country for its successful adoption.

According to him, local farmers must be adequately trained on the system to ensure its success of boosting food security in Nigeria.

“Before we can depend on hydroponic farming system for improved food supply, we must put a lot of factors into consideration, its adoption should be a long term goal.

“There should be a policy to back hydroponic farming, because it is a special farming system that requires a lot of informed communication to guide its adoption in Nigeria.

“Hydroponics is not something that we can jump into headlong without adequate planning, policy and effective communication to local farmers on its adoption.

“Using the old extension system as introduced by the World Bank in the early 80s cannot be applied in the implementation of new agriculture technology like hydroponic farming.

“A lot of things are required and should be put in place from implementation of the policy, funding and training, before we can take hydroponic farming as alternative to food security in Nigeria.

“Hydroponic farming requires consistent and scheduled timing in cultivating any crop, it requires technical and concise observations which our small-scale farmers do not have patient for,” Olawale said.

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