By Ebele Orakpo
Nigeria is indeed blessed in every sense of the word, what with her abundant human and natural resources, favourable climate and fertile land.
From the north, to the south, every state of the federation has something to offer to make the nation really great but it seems Plateau State tops the table in the area ofÂ agriculture as revealed to Vanguard in an exclusive chat in Vom, with Mr. Marcus Pam Rwang, Higher Agricultural Superintendent in the Plateau State Ministry of Agriculture.
According to Mr. Pam Rwang who works at the Vom City Garden, â€œvirtually every crop can be grown here on the Plateau. But it is not every crop that you find on the Plateau that you find elsewhere.â€
Listing some of the crops easily grown in the state, Rwang said: â€œYou can grow rice (both upland and low land), Irish/ sweet potato, apples, bananas, celery, passion fruit, coffee, tea, tomatoes, carrots, yam, varieties of pepper, cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, cantaloupe, parsley, cauliflower, acha (in the mustard family), ornamental plants, the list is endless.â€
The agriculturist stated that before now, Vom City Garden was into apple production although the apple farm was destroyed sometime ago by a bush fire that engulfed the farm; â€œit was one of the first places that we discovered in Nigeria that apples could be grown because of the temperate nature of the weather. Vom in particular, is a place where virtually every crop that one can think of, can be grown,â€ adding:
â€œRight now, what is going to happen in Vom will draw the attention of everyone across the globe because some Israelis are in this garden putting up green houses to raise hybridized vegetable seedlings and these seedlings would be distributed to farmers to try on their farms to boost agriculture.
There are certain varieties that would be introduced that would be friendly to the ecological environment, friendly to the soil, and the weather generally. If they are introduced and farmers are able to lay their hands on such seedlings and propagate them on their farms, you will find that you have a tremendous result. The result will marvel them. Crops raised under a green house are such a wonder. You will wonder whether they are raised here on planet earth because they are spotless.
They will be free from any external hazard like insect pests, infestation and other diseases that are common when crops are raised in the open. They are shielded from the harsh weather condition, insects outside and from any form of attack, whether disease pathogens or whatever. So you find that at the end of the day, those crops raised under the green house are wonderful,â€ he enthused.
Answering question on whether the green house-raised seedlings would do well in open fields when given to farmers, Rwang said: â€œThe farmers may not be able to raise them in the same shielded environment.
They are supposed to try them on their fields. It is not as though they will not do well in the open fields, they will do well if the necessary conditions are made available to them but not as well as they will do if they are raised in a green house because of the special conditions in the green house.
They are called green houses because as you know, green simply signifies agriculture, so the green house is just an agricultural house.â€
He called on government to invest more in the agricultural sector to make Nigeria self-sufficient in the area of food production, noting that crops like passion fruit which has a very high level of vitamin c, Irish potato, apples, mangoes, citrus, onions, cabbage, roses, ornamentals,Â turnip, strawberries, can be produced for both local and international markets.
â€œThe mystery of the Plateau is with God in terms of agriculture because Plateau is a unique place, an agrarian place that God has given Nigeria and if Nigeria will take advantage of Plateau State, I think we will rule the world in terms of food production,â€ Rwang said.