Stories by Steve Agbota [email protected] 08033302331
In some African countries like Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Cameroun many residents living in towns and cities are turning to urban farming, which is known as vertical sacks or bags farming to fight poverty, enhance food security and improve environmental sustainability.
Vertical sacks’ farming is good for crops that do not take long to mature, not bushy, have shallow roots and do not grow too tall. These crops include vegetables such as cucumbers lettuce, pepper, spinach, okra, and tomatoes, leafy, onions, capsicums, cowpeas, beans, sweet potato vines and squash butternuts, ginger and others.
This modern and sustainable agricultural practice and nutrition has been helping communities to understand the principles of good nutrition by championing the concept of vertical farming. The technology allows growing of crops in large sacks, bag-gardens and enabling farmers to grow vegetables on one square metre.
However, sacks’ farming is low-cost and economical but high-yielding food security technology developed to maximise land and water use. The vertical sacks farming does not require much from anyone who wants to venture into it. The sacks or the bags come in small, medium and large sizes. The large size vertical bags have holes in them where stem seedlings are planted.
In many places like Indian and China, sacks farming is also called smart farming or urban farming because it consist of a series of sacks that are filled with manure, soil and small stones that enable water to drain. The approach is seen as a low-cost, economical and healthy solution to food insecurity and runaway unemployment in the society.
Most interesting thing about the technology (sacks farming) is that it is suitable and efficient for offices, hospitals, informal settlements, schools, and on small-scale farms.
Youths are advised to take advantage of this technology to be financially dependent and create jobs for themselves because it require a modicum amount to start and they can start right from their backyards.
In Nigeria today, people are looking for fresh vegetables and any youth who venture into sacks farming can become a supplier of fresh vegetables in his or her neighborhood. For somebody on a small scale vertical sacks farming to be making up to N10, 000 and N15, 000 in a week from selling fresh vegetables is not a bad business.
Daily Sun learnt that Netherlands is building its first large-scale commercial vertical indoor farm. It’s expected to serve Europe’s largest supermarket chains with high quality, pesticide-free fresh cut lettuce. It would be a good idea if Nigeria follows in this direction by emulating countries like Netherlands in building commercial vertical indoor farms across the country.
What you should know about sacks farming: A good sacks farming should allow air and water to reach all crops so that they grow well and it should also last long. There are two designs commonly used in sacks farming; one with horizontal layers of stones and the other with stones or gravel in the middle of the sack. The sack farming with gravel in the middle seems better as it allows easy distribution of water and air to the crops at all levels. It is also suitable when planting crops all around the sack. But if you do not have plans to plant any crops on the side of your sacks, the design without stones will work fine.
How to construct a sack farming: Mix manure with soil in the ratio of 1:1, pierce through the center of the sack bottom into the soil using a sharp and strong rod. This rod will provide support to the sack farming. Then, fold the edges of the sack to allow easy filling with the mixed soil, add one foot of the soil/manure mixture into the sack and water this soil layer so that it is evenly moist. Place a can without top at the center of the sack such that the supporting rod is inside the can. You can use a 2Kg can or a can of about 5 cm diameter.
Fill the can with stones/gravel; fill the area around the can with the soil/manure mixture; lift the can now so that it stands on the newly laid layer and water this level so that the soil is evenly moist.
Repeat the procedure of filling the can with gravel and the area around it with soil/manure mixture until the whole sack is filled. Water each level; add supporting rods at the side of the sack if need be. The supporting rods from two or more sacks can be joined with a wire to be used to train tomatoes. Use a sharp stick to pierce the sack for planting holes; use your thumb to press the soil downwards to make the planting hole bigger.
Ensure that the planting holes are not in the same line vertically so that the plants don’t block each other from accessing sunlight. Place the seedling into the planting hole carefully not to damage the roots· Press the soil around the seedling using your fingers to make it firm. If planting different crops on the sack, plant root crops at the top and leafy vegetables on the sides Water each sack garden everyday to keep the soil moist. A sack is N50, you can use polythene bags its cheaper even broken buckets.