Soilless farming is the system of agriculture which involves growing trees, flowers, vegetables, and other plants without using soil. Soilless farming boosts root hair growth. The system of farming also protects plants against earthworms and other pests. In Nigeria, PS Nutrac is leading the soil less farming movement.
Aeroponics is one of the most recent agricultural technologies used by PS Nutrac. This involves planting in the air with no soil and minimal water.
PS Nutrac is a company co-founded by Samson Ogbole and Peter Jnr Okocha. PS was derived from the first letters of the founders’ names while Nutrac is short for Nutraceuticals which means using food as a method to prevent or treat diseases.
Going by the growth of soilless farming, and the impacts made by PS Nutrac, I reached out to one of the founders, Samson Ogbole to discuss soilless farming, advantages of soil-less farming over the traditional mechanisms an agri-tech.
VUN: Talk about yourself and how you got into agriculture?
Samson: I am Samson Ogbole, I got into agriculture professionally through the guidance of Dr Nobert Maroya when I was given the opportunity to serve in YIIFSWA-I project in IITA and after service year, was made research supervisor where I learnt the ropes.
VUN: What’s PS Nutrac about and how did the name come about?
Samson: PS Nutrac is the short form of PS Nutraceuticals, it is a company co-founded by myself and a gentleman, Mr Peter Jnr (PJ) Okocha, the name Nutraceuticals means using food as a method to prevent or treat diseases and PS is from Peter and Samson.
VUN: You are a champion of soilless farming in Nigeria, I’m sure before you started out, you must have had doubts, what doubts did you have and how were you able to convince yourself to start regardless?
Samson: Doubt??? Not really! As a company getting people to believe was the major issue and this only became an issue after we started.
VUN: Why would someone prefer soilless farm over the normal farm?
Samson: It is not seasonal, one time set up cost, food quality, modern farming as hoes and cutlass can’t feed the growing population, recycled water, reduced use of fertilizer, protects the environment, promotes urban farming, promotes better land usage via vertical farming, and it is appealing to the younger generation.
VUN: One would think that soilless farming will be expensive, which will end up increasing the cost of production, then subsequently the price of farm produce. What will you say about this?
Samson: It actually reduces the price of food as set-up cost is a one time fee, running cost is cheaper, you do more from a little space etc so the price of food drops
VUN: It seems that Nigerians are beginning to embrace agriculture again, what do you think led to this?
Samson: Hunger, unemployment and the government.
VUN: A lot seems to be happening in the Agric tech industry. How much more can technology influence agriculture?
Samson: Every sector that is making wave today had to tap into agriculture, Using China as an example, after the Hiroshima Nagasaki war, there were underdeveloped but today they are developed because of technology, so if our agriculture must be able to fulfil destiny then we must adopt technology
VUN: What advice will you give someone who wants to start a career in Agriculture?
Samson: Look at the value chain, pick where you can function best, agriculture goes beyond food production or farming, so find where you know you have the competence and find someone doing same to understudy.