CHALLENGES/LIMITATIONS OF URBAN FARMING:
- Urban farming is generally not suitable for plants that require vast acreage due to land limitations in urban areas. Grains such as rice, corn, sorghum, etc. will still have to be grown in rural or peri-urban areas.
- The risk of water and soil contamination from the use of agrochemicals. This can however be assuaged by encouraging organic farming techniques and systematically prohibiting the use of agrochemicals over a while.
- A lack of community structures across urban areas in Nigeria might prove challenging.
- Illiteracy/lack of skills: This is a challenge, especially with adaptation and implementation acceptance. There must be a targeted effort at developing orientation, and extension systems.
- Operational cost: energy, infrastructure, and management cost are high. Solar power can be a suitable energy alternative.
- Plant adaptation for Closed environment agriculture: Plants will need to adapt to CEA growing conditions, and new crop genetics will need to be designed specifically for vertical farm production that addresses five traits of interest: easy and uniform fruiting; rapid biomass and multi-harvest capable crops; photoinduced quality; auto-harvest friendly traits; and dwarf plants with yield efficiency
SWOT ANALYSIS OF URBAN FARMING ADAPTATION IN NIGERIA.
To gain an objective insight into the viability of Urban farming in Nigeria, a Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis has been compiled below, with the following observations:
- Urban farming techniques have a higher yield per land ratio than conventional farming.
- Reduced post-harvest loss in fruit and vegetable value chain. Currently 30-50% of domestic production in Nigeria.
- Reduced supply cost and supply chain resilience.
- Improved quality of perishables and food security.
- Health benefits such as leisure and recreation.
- Community development and social inclusion.
- Innovation /technology transfer.
- Water, Land, and Waste management.
- Environmental benefits: Greening of cities, Climate mitigation and adaptation, increased biodiversity, pollution reduction.
- Huge population (approximately 206 million in 2020) with 51.2% being urban dwellers, and an annual growth rate of 4.3%. Food consumption accounts for 56.65% of domestic consumption. These present a huge market opportunity for urban farmers.
- Large, youthful labour force with 62.26% of the population under the age of 25 and National median age of 18.3years.
- 60-80% of the urban population is in the informal sector, which accounts for 65% of GDP. They can be trained to adopt urban farming as a revenue earner/source of employment.
- Many abandoned and underutilized buildings in most cities.
- Residential estates and communities can have community farms run by residents to serve their food requirements.
- Mixed vertical farming and Agro Parks have a high potential for scale in Nigeria.
- Abundant sunlight presents a viable opportunity to explore solar power as the main urban farm energy source.
- Equipment costs and maintenance time are higher than in traditional farming.
- The range of crops that can be grown with urban farming is limited due to space.
- Risk of water and soil contamination from the use of agrochemicals.
- Risk of Genetically Modified Crops due to Plant adaptation to enable vertical farming techniques.
- Reduced income and opportunities post COVID-19 might see a reversal in urban migration growth, leading to a reduced labor force to implement urban farming.
- Lack of stable power and high cost of alternatives.
- A lack of policies to enforce the adaptation of urban farming will hinder its adaptation.
- High illiteracy rates and lack of skilled labor could prove challenging.
- Security of farm assets: Securing urban farms in Nigeria might also prove challenging if other socio-economic problems are not addressed.