The Guardian (Nigeria)

Sack Farming Technique As Elixir For Food Security

- By Gbenga Akinfenwa

AS many Nigerians begin to show interest in Agricultur­e as a veritable tool of securing a decent livelihood and revitalisi­ng the economy, getting expansive farmland to actulaise this, especially in urban areas has constitute­d a big challenge.

But since initiative is always driven by necessity, sack farming is being adopted in the place of endless search for land.

This challenge has given rise to the adoption of sack farming — an initiative that has given a new vista to those who preferred to toe the line of farming, either to get quick cash or for subsistenc­e purpose.

Sack farming is a method of growing crops in soilfilled sacks or polythene bags, containers or plastics.

It involves filling of bags with soil, manure, and pebbles for drainage, and growing plants on the top and in holes in the sides. The sacks allow people to grow food in places with limited access to arable land and water.

Crops like tomatoes, onions, cabbages, pepper, mushrooms, vegetables and many more blossom with this method.

The sack method allows a freer flow of water to the roots and retains moisture more efficientl­y than traditiona­l methods, meaning sack farmers can keep their plants hydrated with less water.

Urban dwellers who live in rented houses are best placed to undertake sack farming. They can grow vegetables in sacks on verandahs, either for their own consumptio­n or for sale to earn extra income. They can also do it for both purposes.

According to experts, it is a very good option for landless households to ensure food and nutrition security. It is also a solution for people who have land with low soil fertility or too rocky to support cultivatio­n of crops.

One of the advantages of this method is its portabilit­y, as well as high productivi­ty at low cost. With this method, the container, soil preparatio­n and other requiremen­ts are taken care of. The sack garden are filled with soil mixed with farmyard of compost manure, cow dung or chicken droppings to nourish the soil.

An Agricultur­al Extension Specialist/ Rural Sociologis­ts at the Ahmadu Bello University ( ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State, Dr. Yusuf Abdulahhi, said the adoption of the farming technique would help food security of households.

Said he: “If people can grow crops in their domain with little containers filled with soil, there will be abundant of food in the country. If they follow this technique, they can grow quite a range of vegetable crops, which will help food security of households. They can even generate additional income from it.

“It will not only contribute to food security at family level, it can also contribute to their incomes. There are so many examples and success stories of this kind of farming in many parts of Africa. Though the technique is not new, but it’s becoming popular now, especially in urban areas.”

According to Abdulahhi, if done well, sack- farming method is very good because there are some special crops – vegetable and fruits crops that can be grown through this kind of agricultur­e system.

He noted that if Nigerians adopt it in a very modern and scientific way, regular incomes could be generated on regular basis.

“In fact, some people are growing onions and tomatoes indoors, not just in their compounds but even inside their rooms. So, the benefits are there, the advantages are there, the security are there and there are a lot of informatio­n on it.”

Abdulahhi said if many Nigerians can adopt the farming system in addition to other kinds of farming like greenhouse technology and other types of farming, “definitely this will help the country to achieve food security.”

The Chief Executive

Officer of Food and Fruits Internatio­nal Company, Mr. Shuaib Mubarak, a researcher and crop expert, based in Abeokuta, Ogun State, told The Guardian that dwarf crop farmers are currently adopting the planting method.

“The idea of sack farming is getting prominence because it’s easy to put into practice. The method only required a small amount of space; even people who don’t have sufficient space can cultivate crops of their choice with minimal stress.

“Aside the use of pots and flower vase, sack farming is suitable for dwarf crop cultivatio­n. The method has created employment and generated income for both rural and urban dwellers, and has proved to be a good way for farmers to adapt to the effects of climate change,” he said.

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