Use of machinery has become more important in agriculture as labour costs continue to rise, National Sales Manager, Dizengoff Nigeria, Mr Kunle Dabiri has said.
Dabiri said Dizengoff Nigeria has made vegetable and crop production easier with the use of modern and affordable farm equipment, kits and improved varieties of seeds and seedlings.
Dabiri spoke during a field demonstration exercise conducted for corporate and individual farmers on the usage of tractors; drip irrigation systems and greenhouses for fruits and vegetable production in Ibadan, recently.
Greenhouse kits, he said, could be used to produce exotic tomatoes all-year round even in the bacteria-infested areas of the Southwest Nigeria.
Dizengoff also demonstrated to farmers how tractors are used for ploughing, harrowing and ridging; explaining that mechanisation of crop production was the only sustainable way to increasing production, productivity, more profit and a means of reducing poverty among farmers.
Demonstrating the use of mini-drip irrigation kits to the participants, Supervisory Agronomist, Mr Friday Ali, said the kits were in different capacities and sizes, ranging from half a plot to one hectare of land.
The drip irrigation system, he added, could be used to produce annual crops, vegetables, and short-cycled crops in the dry season, ensuring more profit.
Tomatoes, cucumber, watermelon, maize, potatoes, groundnuts, different vegetables and a host of other crops could be planted between November and May with the use of mini drip irrigation kits.
He also emphasised the use of soluble fertiliser that could be used in boosting production. The soluble fertiliser, he said, is applied through the drip irrigation system and it goes directly to the root of the plant, in a method known as fertigation, thereby avoiding back-breaking application methods and high labour cost associated with granulated type of fertiliser. This type of fertiliser is used with knapsack-sprayers too, he said, adding that the cost of fertiliser is reduced by over 60 per cent with the use of soluble type.
The source of water for the drip irrigation kits could be wells, boreholes or streams, Dizengoff said, and that the kits are easily assembled and dismantled even by laymen.
In the southern part of the country where bacterial wilt is rampant and responsible for poor performance of tomatoes, greenhouses and their accompanying improved seeds are ways of ensuring sustainable tomato production.
Dizengoff said sporadic scarcity of all types of tomatoes and pepper could be eradicated with the massive use of greenhouses, urging the corporate bodies, the government, farmers’ groups and individuals to explore opportunities in the application of modern kits for profitable business in vegetable production.
Commercial Manager, Tractor & Implements, Mr Damisa Enahoro, said the demonstration was to tell Nigerians that farming is no longer as stressful as it was, saying youth unemployment could be drastically reduced in the country if simple and affordable technologies were deployed to food production.
Enahoro urged farmers to group and pool resources together, buy tractors, greenhouses, and other modern agricultural tools and experience a turnaround in their productivity and financial power.
On finding a market for exotic vegetables from greenhouses as a concern expressed by farmers, Dabiri said hotels, eateries, boarding schools and well-to-do Nigerians prefer exotic fruits and vegetables, hence ensuring a sustainable market.