We were greeted by Engineer Bamidele Ogunaiya, the CEO of Fidel Aggregates Limited. We were informed that he was an engineer, who had started farming about seven years ago. They were growing several crops on the farm, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, maize and bananas on the farm. They were also conducting experiments and try out new techniques in order to increase the average yields of various crops in Nigeria and also to grow healthier and more disease resistant crops. They are also trying to grow crops out of season, so they can avoid the pests and diseases associated with such crops better. They have perfected this technique with cassava but are still trying to do so with maize. They possess about two thousand square metres of land.
They practice a system of surface irrigation called drip irrigation. The irrigation pipes are also used in fertilizer application. They make use of fertilizers called DAOP and MOP. Fertilizers are applied based on a soil analysis called soil amendment.
Plants Grown on the Farm
The farm just achieved their first harvest of cucumber. They have tried more than twenty times over the last seven years to grow cucumber but have not been successful because of the devastating effects of thrips on the cucumber. After cucumber has been harvested, it can’t be grown on the same plot of land for another three years. The reason for this is that cucumber consumes a lot of the soil’s nutrients during its growth. Bamboo is used for staking and to protect the cucumber fruits from touching the ground. The bamboo was used primarily because it was cost efficient but it was discovered to be very labour inefficient. It was decided that a new staking materials was needed that was both cost and labour efficient and therefore, they have decided to start using wood and trellising. The cucumber plants are showing signs of possible disease or nutrient deficiency and were exhibiting chlorosis or yellowing. Samples have been sent to the laboratory for analysis to be done but Potassium Nitrate was applied to the soil as yellowing of leaves is a possible symptom of Nitrogen deficiency. Cucumber plants are irrigated every day.
They plan to do 10 hectares of tomatoes. The tomatoes currently being grown on the farm are being used to mop up the occurrence of late blight disease on the farm, before they start their planting on a large scale. Ridomil Gold is being used to treat them. Copper Hydroxide, Deconil or Octil can also be used in the treatment of late blight disease. They have an average tomato yield of about 100 tonnes per year. The tomatoes are grown in the nursery before they are taken to the field.
They raise several plants in nurseries before transplanting them to the field. They only have tomatoes and pepper in their nursery currently. The planting media used in their nursery are coconut shaft, sharp sand, black soil and moss.
Well that's all for today, stay tuned for more updates on my internship year at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Obafemi Awolowo University.