According to agriculrist Ismail Olawale, a fellow at the Nigerian Agricultural and Extension Liaison Service (NAERLS), local farmers in Nigeria are not yet ready to convert to hydroponics.
According to Olawale, who expressed his standpoint in Lagos last monday, Nigerian farmers are not ready to handle sensitive hydroponic farming systems that require a lot of attention.
“As an expert in the field, I will say the average local farmer in Nigeria is not ready for hydroponic farming because of its cumbersome nature,” explained Olawale.“Nigerian farmers are not ready to practice hydroponic farming at a commercial level because of the process involved in the system. Hydroponic farming is great innovation in farming, but in Nigeria I do not see it as an alternative for conventional farming yet. It cannot serve as an alternative for food production and food security in Nigeria at the stage we are in now.”
Young graduates offer hope
Despite his missgivings about the local Nigerian farmers, Olawale was at the same time positive that with the right training and support from the government, young Nigerian graduates would be able to successfully manage delicate hydroponic set ups.
“Hydroponic farming system is thriving in Kenya today because there is a kind of government support for it and because of its land terrain, ” said Olawale.Though this new farming system is applicable in Nigeria but it will really demand a lot of efforts on the part of the farmer, if it will work. Hydroponic farming is a kind of advanced technology in farming, and pushes the philosophy of what we call horizontal farming i.e. farming upwards.”
Obtaining and using the equipment is an issue
The NAERLS expert also noted that obtaining the necessary equipment for hydroponic farming is difficult and that this hurdle will contribute to keeping it rare in Nigeria. Learning to use the new equipment is also an obstacle.
“The equipment involved in running a hydroponic farm may not be easily accessible to the local farmer although there are local adaptations to the equipment but it is not readily available,” said Olawale. “We had an expert from Kenya two years ago at NAERLS who came to train us on some adaptations of the hydroponic farming equipment but even at that, Nigerian farmers are not patient to learn the ropes,” he said.