Barely 24 hours after the Federal Government announced that the pest, Tuta absoluta, had invaded six states, the management of Benson Idahosa University (BIU), Benin City, yesterday said it was set to flood the market with an annual 800,000 tonnes of tomatoes from its farm.
Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Ernest Izevbigie, disclosed during a press conference where he also said that the school’s agricultural department has concluded plan to turn out 300, 000 tonnes of grazing grass, annually to arrest community/Fulani herdsmen clashes in the country.
While noting that shortage of tomatoes in the country has become an embarrassment to the nation, Izevbigie said the BIU embarked on a research that would make tomatoes available all year round.
He said the school had already cultivated 10 hectares of the vegetable crop which is expected to produce 200,000 tonnes in every three months “and from our research and findings, we can do this four times in a year and all put together, we will be harvesting 800, 000 tonnes annually. With this, we can ameliorate the challenges posed by shortage of the crop.”
On the grazing grass, the VC said Nigeria can be self sufficient in forage production, noting that the country is blessed with abundant land to achieve this, adding that BIU was leveraging on the latest technology of forage production, the Hydroponics Technology, to achieve an annual harvest of grass crops.
“The impact of importation of exotic species of forage crops can have detrimental effects on our indigenous species”.