Food security: Expert urges FG to promote urban farming

The Country Coordinator, Open Forum for National Biotechnology in Africa, Nigeria Chapter, Dr Rose Gidado has appealed to the Federal Government to promote urban agriculture to mitigate against food scarcity.

Gidado, a Director, National Biotechnology Development Agency, Abuja made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.

She said that urban agriculture would address issues surrounding insecurity in many parts of the country.

Gidado said that “hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaponics’’ were all new urban agriculture techniques that be promoted.

She said that greenhouse farming technology that be promoted to boost food production and self-sufficiency.

According to her, hydroponics is a technology for growing plants in nutrient solutions that supply all nutrient elements needed for optimum plant growth.

“It is done with or without the use of an insert medium such as gravel, vermiculite, rock wool, peat moss, sawdust, coir dust and coconut fiber.

“Aeroponics is an innovative technique of misting the roots, which are suspended in the air, with hydroponic solution. Plants are supported by tailor made holes in Styrofoam panels.

“Aquaponics means raising fish and plants in the same water source. The fish actually provide the fertilizer plants and the plant roots filter the water fish.

“Greenhouse farming is a type of farming in which crops are cultivated under protected and enclosed environment.

“It advantages is to keep out pests and diseases and has a comparable yield advantage to open filed cultivation of crops.

“Urban agriculture will enable people practice farming within their homes and environment thereby increasing food production.

“We have the urban agriculture and it be promoted by the government; with all the of herdsmen, Boko Haram, banditry and the likes, urban agriculture will mitigate against it.

“All we need to do is promote urban agriculture; people need to be taught how to farm on top of their rooftop, in containers and polythene bags,” she said.

Gidado added that government initiate activities that would promote the new techniques in the country.

“The processes are known as soilless and greenhouse farming and they are readily available to practice and are cost effective.

“You can plant things in your house, backyards, you can plant things inside plastics and small containers and you will harvest enough with improve seeds.

“You can plant on top of your roof if you don’t have space in you compound for farming.

“We have all this hydroponics, soilless and greenhouse farming that people can embrace in urban cities,” she said.

The country coordinator said that soilless farming reduces contamination from crops and good for planting vegetables, adding that people needed to embrace the process.

She said that soil based agriculture has a lot of challenges thereby resulting in boycott in the urban areas.

“People can embrace it especially to plant vegetables that provide us micro nutrients and they are very essential good functioning of our , like the vitamin A, C, D.

“We get a lot of vitamins from vegetables like pepper, tomatoes, vegetables and other soilless crop.

“When you talk about soilless farming, contamination will be there; many vegetables we buy in the markets are already contaminated.

“People must wash the vegetables they buy from market properly to reduce the level of contamination.

“The soilless vegetables are safer and easy to cultivate,” she added.

Gidado also urged government

to invest more in mechanisation and technology to increase food production.

“We do without technology and we do without mechanisation.

“We just have to combine all, just one aspect alone. We must also promote the use of satellite imagery to protect our farms from invasion.

“Once we have this technology, we will complain about availability of rice, maize and .

“Food will be cheap and the poor man on the street will be able to feed his family,” she said.

Gidado urged farmers to explore the use of satellite imagery application to their farms and detect any possible attack by insects and infestation.

She said the application was being used by farmers in the USA to their farmland.

“If you have a big farm and you are cultivating your crops, the satellite imagery helps you detect problem in the farm if there is invasion by insect or infestation somewhere.

“It will show on your phone ones you have the application anytime there is invasion.

“Some big time farmers have it already in Nigeria, but they are very few.

The application is good because in the USA, that is what the business farmer’s use.

“I went there and I saw it, they have the application on their mobile phones; if there is any invasion, they quickly see it and attack it and care of it immediately,” she said.

The coordinator said that farming was the combination of all things; mechanisation actually helps you enlarge your production and reduce suffering.

“I am into mechanisation farming; I have planters and harvesters and they make it easy to manage my farm.

“So government should also invest in mechanisation,” she added. (NAN)