Benson Idahosa University sets to harvest 800,000 tonnes of tomatoes annually


 Prof. Ernest Izevbigie, the Vice-Chancellor of Benson Idahosa University (BIU), Benin, said the institution is set to start harvest of an annual 800, 000 tonnes of tomatoes from its farm.
Izevbigie, who spoke during a news conference in Benin on Wednesday, also said the varsity agricultural department had concluded plan to turn out 300, 000 tonnes of grass for grazing annually to arrest community/Fulani herdsmen clashes.
The vice-chancellor noted that shortage of tomatoes in the country had become an embarrassment to the nation.
According to him, the BIU deems it necessary to embark on a research that would make tomatoes available all-year-round.
Izevbigie said the university had already cultivated 10 hectares of the vegetable crop, which was 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,” he said.
On the grass, Izevbigie said Nigeria could be self sufficient in forage production, noting that the country was blessed with abundant land to achieve this.
He said the BIU was leveraging on the latest technology of forage production, the ‘Hydroponics Technology” to achieve an annual harvest of grass crops.
Izevbigie said it was good that many Nigerians had spoken against the planned importation of grass into the country.
“The impact of importation of exotic species of forage crops can have detrimental effects on our indigenous species and also constitute a threat to the integrity of our environment.
“Imported grass could introduce noxious weeds capable of invading our indigenous foods crops, thereby posing a veritable threat to the food basket of the nation.
Exotic forage grasses do not have any comparative advantage over our indigenous ones,” he said.
Izevbigie also stated that importing the grass would put further pressure on the foreign exchange reserve.
"Nigeria grass (Pennisatum PerdiselatumTrin) is used as fodder. It provides high yields of green herbage ranging from 30 to 109 tonnes per hectares.
"The grass can be cut four months after sowing, and it provides huge quantity of good quality, highly nutritious green forage and can stand several cuts per year.
"It does well in all of the Savanna agro-ecological zone of Nigeria. The grass can be cultivated all year round," he said. 

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