Encouraging farming in Urban centres through sustainable systems.
As a developing nation, agriculture is important to Nigeria. Livestock farming, fish farming, forestry, and crop production make up the agricultural sector. Crop production accounts for 87% of the products from the sector. To end extreme poverty, agriculture can increase earnings and ensure food security.
A study by the world bank in 2016 revealed that 65% of poor adults make their living through agriculture. Agriculture contributed 22% to Nigeria’s GDP in 2021 (NBS). The sector employs over 36% of the labour force making it the largest employer of labour in Nigeria. 80% of farmers in Nigeria are Small Holder Farmers (SHF). Between 2016 – 2019, these SHFs produced 90% of Nigeria’s agricultural produces.
Nigeria’s agricultural sector faces several challenges. Firstly, because the supply of agricultural products cannot meet the demand, we import. Secondly, there is a shortage of value chain linkages in the sector. The seasonality of crops leads to a fluctuation in price. Furthermore, the location of farms in rural areas mitigates easy transportation. Then there is the problem of food storage which creates food wastage and shortage.
Samson Ogbole the founder of “Soilless Farm” and an i-FAIR participant, has developed a sustainable solution to address some of the sector’s challenges. The soilless farm solution will promote the growth of SHFs. This is done through the use of a hydroponics system that would ensure all-year-round vegetable growth in urban areas. The hydroponic system is a 1.5m by 1m grow system with the capacity to grow 500 vegetable plants (100kg of vegetables) per month.
The problem with crop seasonality is solved by cultivating vegetables all year round. Furthermore, by selling these vegetables, these SHFs would increase their earnings.
The Innovation Fellowship for Aspiring Inventors and Researchers (i-FAIR) is an innovation-focused initiative. It focuses on raising a generation of innovators, inventors, and researchers in Nigeria. The fellowship training takes place for 6 months. The fellowship provides workspace, equipment, and monitoring for participants. This will enable the participants to transform ideas into inventions, innovations into solutions and prototypes, ready for industrial uptake. During the Innovation Fellowship for Aspiring Researchers (i-FAIR), Samson, under the mentorship and support of experts from the fellowship, was able to develop a working product.