There are basic information that could aid the successful cultivation of some crops in the interest of farmers in a bid to promote food security in the country. These plants include cassava, okra, pepper, tomato, and cashew going by what experts in their cultivation have revealed. For an agriculturist, with a specialty in the cultivation of tubers, farmers that intend to plant cassava and get maximum yield, should not to plant the stems on stony or rocky lands. He said such farmers should rather look for a land that is not hard, but soft enough to plant cassava stems. The agriculturist, Mr. Afeez Lasisi, a Chief Agricultural Officer, Directorate of University Farms (DUFARMS), Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State when he said, “Cassava is a tolerant plant. The farmer added that the crop can survive anywhere, however, not in marshy, stony or rocky land”.
Talking about the varieties available, Mr. Lasisi said there are those with stems from South Africa; there are local varieties as well an improved version with high-yielding status known as TME 419. He explained that the TME variety is “The choice of many cassava farmers because it is an improved version of the local varieties, with high-yielding capacities and capabilities”. He stated that the improved variety, TME 419, matures within a year and is ready to be harvested for consumption as Garri, Fufu or Eba after being processed for other uses by industries. The agriculturist hinted that the hectares of land to be devoted to cassava farm would be determined whether the farmer is “Cultivating for commercial purposes, or as a subsistence farmer.” Another farmer, who is versed in the cultivation of vegetable fruit popularly known as Okra, has said that there are not enough farmers in this field to meet the nation’s local consumption.
Mr. Samuels Babatunde, who is Head of Council Farms said there are prospects in Okra cultivation as some farmers from the South-West take their harvested baskets of the fruit vegetable in trucks to markets in the Eastern parts of the country for sale. Mr. Babatunde, who is also the Chief Extension Superintendent in FUNAAB, said there are many varieties of Okra that could be classified into two broad classes of dwarf varieties and tall varieties. For the two classes, he explained that there are those that grow to maturity stage and are ready for harvest in 45 days, those for 72 days, and others in six months. He said, “I prefer the dwarf Okra that fruits in 45 days, which is one and half months. For this variety, it has its advantage. One, I can get to the market early. Two, I can plant this variety between two to four times in a year, depending on the availability of water (rain).” Mr. Babatunde said Okra might be planted on flat ground or make ridges, but he or she must ensure that the right seeds are obtained by applying the soil treatment; applying insecticide and good fruiting chemicals.
In the same vein, investing in pepper and tomato farming is said to be the surest way a farmer can become rich and ensure food security in the country. Mr. Samuels Babatunde disclosed that farmer to get the maximum yield and profit from pepper and tomato farming, he or she must cultivate the farm near either a natural water source or must dig a well to nourish the vegetables to maturity with natural liquid. He noted that such farmers should also get quality seeds from reputable organisations and watch over them with keen interest from the nursery stage before transplanting on the farm. He added that as a farmer, who wants large profit; must devote large hectares of land to the planting of these fruit vegetables. On the challenges facing pepper and tomato farmers, Mr. Babatunde lamented that there was a lack of storage facilities to accommodate leftovers during the glut, saying there are many varieties of tomato such as ‘beske’ and ‘kerewa’, which originated from the neighbouring Cotonou, Republic of Benin.
Meanwhile, another farmer has described cashew nuts and fruits as having both economic and health benefits. Mrs. Oluwakemi Ibeto, who is a Senior Farm Officer, Cashew Nut Processing Unit noted that having large and well-maintained hectares of cashew trees, the economic benefits would come in the form of high yield, which could earn the farmer millions of dollars in foreign exchange. To keep cashew farm safe from harmattan fire, Mrs. Ibeto said the farmer must carry out what she termed ‘fire tracing’, which means that the bushes and shrubs in the farm and perimeters around the farm, must be timely cleared (or weeded) to prevent fire from nearby vegetation, from consuming the cashew plantation/crops. Mrs. Ibeto explained further that a farmer should allow cashew fruits to be fully ripened before they are harvested. Hence, the central message from the various agricultural experts is simply that concerted efforts must be made to fully understand the peculiarities of certain crops in order to get maximum yield and boost food production.