Nigeria’s farms currently struggle to feed over 200 million persons living within its borders. As the hungry mouths in the country multiply and the space needed to grow food for them expands, it’s becoming increasingly clear that our current land-based agricultural practices aren’t sustainable.
Throw in a doubling of current population size by 2050 and the much harsher climate we are expected to cope within the next couple of decades, and we’re tethering on the edge of a cliff.
But then there’s technology to mitigate the difficulties of the reality we’ve just described. Entrepreneurs like Angel Adelaja are trying to grow much more food with less material and in much smaller spaces than the traditional farms require.
Angel Adelaja’s solution is Fresh Direct Nigeria, an enclosed farm which combines two techniques: Hydroponics, a farming technique that involves growing crops with no soil and limited amounts of nutrient-rich water; and Vertical Farming, in which crops are grown in vertical stacks rather than on the bare ground.
The hydroponics approach to cultivating crops has been known for centuries and practiced by a significant number of plant growers for a few decades. But it has recently gained more traction as concerns about sustainable farming and climate change have increased.
Adelaja thinks that this method, along with the maximization of space with vertical farming, could ensure that Nigeria is able to wade past the doomsday scenarios for future food security that some experts have panted. And she may have evidence on her side.
According to her, this technique of food produce production can grow crops on a patch that’s ten times smaller than the average farmland and yield up to 15 times more output. This means a lot more food yields per square meter of land than what most farmers are managing to achieve.
This space-maximizing system makes farming possible in the most urbanized locations. Regular backyard gardens can churn out larger harvests. Cultivation can even take place in places like level rooftops- something that’s already being done in a number of countries. Younger city-dwelling people will be attracted to this innovative version of agricultural practice.
Fresh Direct Nigeria is trying to get the youth involved in its projects by training them to grow food in containers like its own. Over the past few years, it’s been working to expand this initiative over the country.
Adelaja has received a number of awards for her engagements with agritech. In 2016, she was one of the finalists at the first edition of the Aso Villa Demo Day. In the same year, Fresh Direct Nigeria was among five winners at the global finale of Chivas The Venture, an international competition set up to discover and fund the most innovative startups from across the world.
Featured image source: Fresh Direct NG