Wells Hosa Greenhouse Farms has harvested its first set of tomato produce which was planted using hydroponic technology. Not only is this technology well positioned to revolutionize Nigeria’s tomato industry, it could also contribute to the overall growth of the agricultural sector.
Owned by Captain Idahosa Okunbor, it is located on 27 hectares of land in Benin, Edo state. It also consists of 28 hydroponic greenhouses which are 5,440 square metres each, making it the largest of its kind in West Africa.
Hydroponic technology is a method of growing plants in a controlled environment using mineral nutrients in the water. This method of farming doesn’t require soil or direct rainfall. The technology is created using different systems involving irrigation, fertilisation and pest control, to obtain an increase in a plant’s growth and nutrients, as compared with traditional open field methods.
In a speech during the harvesting ceremony, Chief Executive of Wells Hosa Greenhouse Farms, Captain Idahosa Okunbor said the company’s target is to meet up local demand and export of tomatoes by producing an estimated 4,200 tonnes valued to generate $6 million yearly.
“The Nigerian economy has grown three times its size and the agricultural sector has contributed 27 percent of this expansion. However, the agricultural sector accounts for only 9 percent of exports while crude oil accounts for over 70 percent. It is estimated that Nigeria imports $360 million worth of tomatoes annually, this first Wells Hosa Greenhouse project is not even scratching the surface, we still have a lot of work to do around the country to ensure self-sufficiency and import substitution whilst generating our own dollar inflows through exports,” he said.
This project is set to create direct employment for about 500 people and another 2,000 people indirectly. Wells Hosa Greenhouse Farms also has plans of replicating this scalable and modular means of farming in other parts of the country to engage in the production of various types of vegetables.
With this technology, farmers will no longer go through any soil setup or testing troubles. No mulching, tilling, changing of soil or weeding is required. Plants can grow anywhere and it uses about 20 times less water than soil-based farming. It requires the use of 20 percent less space for growing and the farmers can have complete control over nutrient balance by using Dyna-Gro Nutrition Solutions.
The system of water is such that it can be reused to enable farmers to conserve water. The farmers need not worry about using pesticides because the environment is sterile and controlled. Harvesting will also be a lot easier and the farmer can grow crops all year round if indoors.