Taraba govt to upgrade agribusiness through Greenhouse project
The governor of Taraba state, Mr.. Darius Ishaku, has explained that the Greenhouse project of his administration is in line with his vision to upgrade agribusiness in the state, using the active agricultural activities of the people as a platform.
Responding to continuous criticism of the Greenhouse Project through a media note obtained by Nigerian Concord from his SSA on media and public affairs, Mr.. SylVanus Giwa, the governor said farming is part and parcel of the people but added that they had been expending energy and resources on traditional methods that yield very little for their effort.
According to Ishaku, the new model is targeted at changing the trend and helping farmers have full value for their input.
He pressed further that the project is set to create jobs and business opportunities for many unemployed persons through direct and indirect jobs.
“Only short-sighted persons will not see the need to create alternative job opportunities in a state like Taraba where so much dependence on government employment had hitherto slowed down socio-economic development” he said, adding that the initiative would diversify income sources for people and homes.
Governor IShaku stated that the Greenhouse project had the potential to position Taraba in the production and marketing of agricultural products across the country.
He added that the current import culture of Nigerians is pathetic that millions of Naira is spent on food items that we have the potential and capacity to produce and consume, stressing that the socio-economic benefits of this project in the long run are so enormous and critics should see beyond the present start up.
His words: “The nutritional value of the products from the Greenhouse has been proven to be high and beneficial to consumers. The first product from the farm – cucumber has been testified to by consumers as affordable and of better quality than many they have been using.
“For the benefit of information to critics, Greenhouses are buildings specially designed for growing plants. Under greenhouse production, yields can be significantly increased, compared to open field conditions if the practices are carried out correctly.
Greenhouse technology is being prioritized due to the numerous associated benefits listed below.
“Yield and Volume: Greenhouse production when carried out correctly can significantly increase yields over what is possible under open field production. For example, greenhouse tomato yields four to five times more.
“Furthermore, harvests last up to 8 months compared to one month in the open. These high yields allow farmers to market consistent volumes of produce weekly. This ensures and maintains buyer loyalty and market share.
“Quality: Crops from green houses are protected from pests, diseases and other hazards that affect open field crops. The need for pesticides is also reduced, which lowers costs and risk of harmful residues on the crop. As a result of this, higher quality produce is possible. For consistent quality, good agricultural practices such as optimal plant population, irrigation, plant nutrition and vigilant crop protection must still be maintained.
“Pest and Disease Management: Crops grown in the open field are exposed to all insects and diseases in the open environment. Greenhouses are covered with mesh screen to keep most of these pests and diseases they carry away from the crop. However, strict monitoring for breaks in the mesh and proper use of entrance doors is necessary. The plastic roofing materials also reduce the level of some diseases, by controlling the type of light entering the house.
“Weather: Weather effects in the open field are reduced significantly by green houses. Plastic roofing keeps rain off the crop, thereby limiting the growth of many fungi and bacteria. Although some wind movement is necessary for pollination and removing excess humidity from the plant canopy, strong winds can harm plants. Greenhouses protect the crop from such winds, excepting storms or hurricanes. The working environment inside greenhouses is much more hygienic than outdoors. This enhances productivity as well as worker comfort.
“Growing Medium: Greenhouse production can be carried out on marginal lands as plants can be grown in containers (pots, bags) with or without soil. Some materials used include coir, rock wool, and vermiculite. Fertigation and Hydroponics is also practiced in greenhouses.
“Land space: Small scale growers can benefit tremendously from this technology as it does not require large land areas to generate a profit”
Lastly, the governor stated that the Greenhouse technology offers significant potential for vegetable horticulture and consequently, economic and rural development in Taraba state, assuring that his government is committed to a strategically planned programme for development of the industry in the context of a collaborative approach among stakeholders.
“To this end the Greenhouse seeks to generate interest in the technology by exposing a wider cross section of farmers, especially the youth, through hands-on training and partnerships with interested groups and individuals. This will assist in training students and farmers from the surrounding area” he concluded.