Green House Technology is an effort to add value to agricultural production. Wulasha Amina, a female greenhouse tomato farmer in Auta ba leifi, Abuja courtesy of YOUWIN Grant, gave a clear distinction between open field and greenhouse tomato production. Tomatoes are mostly produced in open field and greenhouse is still relatively new.
Open field is cheaper to produce as you will not need any tunnel. It can be done by anyone as it is the practice of most tomato farmers. Most farmers have biotechnical skills and do well. Anyone can start tomato farming in their backyards. It is really inexpensive and is a fruit that everyone enjoys. However, it is controlled by seasons. Raining season is particularly not favourable for open field productions as the tomatoes tend to abort themselves due to the rain. Therefore, production for open field will last at mist for most. However, for greenhouse, you can farm all year round. You control all factors of production, you choose what you want. The indeterminate variety in greenhouse is sometimes called the vine variety since they must be supported. They grow for up to 8 months producing an average of 15kg per plant (I am been modest here because with good practices, some farmers have recorded up to 25kg per plant). Also, depending on the price, if you have a tunnel of 8m by 24m (containing 480 plants), and you sell it for say
N400 per kg, you will make an average of N2,000,000 or more.
That means in a year, you should get back your investment on the greenhouse. A small tunnel (8m by 24m) from Dizengoff Nig. Ltd. costs about
N1,100,000, you will need a borehole, and then installation. Tomatoes from greenhouse have a shelf life of 21 days. That means that you can pluck it and keep it in room temperature for 21 days which is good news when you need to transport the produce. It is tastier and more fleshy than the open field variety. The biggest disadvantage of greenhouse tomatoes are that the tunnels are expensive which also translates in the cost of the produce so greenhouse tomatoes are mostly for supermarket consumption or high brow parts of town.
I am in Abuja and selling wasn’t so hard. I got a superstore that mopped up all my produce but it is something you have to do before the time of harvest. I can boldly say that the market is inelastic. We all can farm tomatoes and it will still not be enough for Nigerian consumption. Most people farm but don’t market well, it is sad to note that 70% of tomatoes perish and the farmers lose all their products and remain perpetually poor. You must count the cost before you plough your grounds for large scale farming” advised, Wulasha.
The major constraints facing tomato production are; Ready market; Lack of knowledge and technical expertise; Pest and diseases and Middlemen. Farmers suffer but the middle men make all the profit and this is not just a tomato problem but all agricultural produce. We need to insist on eating the fruit of our labour.
Agropreneur willing to adopt and invest into this technology will require the following; Land; Green House; Drip Irrigation system; Quality Vegetable Seeds from reputable source; Knapsack Sprayer; Fertilizers and Agro-chemicals; Protective Equipment (Overall, Respirator and Gloves), Nursery set, Plastic Crates, Basket, Weighing Balance/Spring Balance, Wheel Barrow, Shovel, Hand Rake, Hand Trowel and Shed.
It is important to get necessary training and agronomic technical support from the technology supplier on proper management of Green House technology. To make significant profit from this technology, it is imperative to add value to the product of this technology, this can come in form of product branding and packaging. More importantly, target market should be identified before delving into this business.
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