The Vice-Chancellor of Landmark University, Prof. Adeniyi Olayanju, has said Nigerian needs to invest in technology to boost agricultural yields in order to avert a worse hunger situation in the future.
Olayanju, who is a professor of agricultural mechanisation said this in an interview with our correspondent on the sidelines of the 25th anniversary of Educational Advancement Centre, Ibadan.
He said prices of foodstuffs were very expensive now because of the COVID-19 lockdown which prevented farmers from going to farm at the outset of planting season in 2020.
Olayanju added that insecurity and climate change were some other reasons food prices were very expensive now in the country, saying climatic problem could be addressed with the use of agricultural drones and hydroponic technology which is soilless farming. He added that these two factors would also lure the youths into agriculture.
The VC said, “The climate is changing and whether we like it or not it will affect the quantity of plant and animal production as well as fishery.
“But by the time we begin to use drone, it will warn ahead of time and it will enable you to project ahead of time. We may not be able solve the present situation ( hunger) now but to avert the future one we need to start with agricultural drones and hydroponic technology.
“Hydroponic technology ( soilless farming) has proven that plants do not need soil to grow, but nutrients. What plants need is the nutrients and what the soil does is to serve as the means of holding the plants.
“If you have another means of holding your plant maybe in pipes that are perforated, plant roots will look for nutrients that are mixed with water and it will consume it like drips and before you know it the plants will grow. Crops like yams, cassava may not thrive with hydroponic but vegetables like tomatoes, onion and others in that category will do very well.
“What agricultural drones can do is to help access some of the factors that can increase the yield of crops. For example, drones can help in precision agriculture. Drones have cameras and sensors that can know the quantity of water a plant will need and at what temperature will it be optimum to grow our crops.
“By the time it also looks at the leaves of the plants, it will also tell you the colour is changing and there are things you need to do. Drone agriculture in essence collate data and send the data to central monitor.”
The Chief Strategic Officer of EAC, Muyiwa Bamgbose, said despite the challenges facing educational institutes, the centre had kept going because it was not created to make profit but to serve humanity.
Bamgbose said the centre was hopeful of getting accreditation to run an open university before the end of the year.