Samson Ogbole is trying to solve a problem many aren’t aware exists.
In his native Nigeria there is a shortage of land needed to provide food for its ever-growing population of 190 million.
There are only 30 million hectares of farmland under cultivation in Nigeria annually, short of the estimated 78.5 million needed for food production, according to the International Trade Administration of the United States.
It is this significant problem that Ogbole is tackling with an unconventional method of farming that involves growing crops in the air.
Aeroponics, as this method is known as, is a process of growing plants in the air without the use of soil.
Mineral nutrient solutions are used to feed plants in water, without soil.
Ogbole first got involved in soilless farming in 2014, and two years later founded PS Nutraceuticals, a company that “implements cutting edge agricultural technologies for efficiency in food production to ensure food security.”
“Soilless growing entails removing the soil component, bringing in substitutes, and applying fertilizer to enable the plants to grow,” Ogbole says.
The advantages of this innovation are manifold, according to Ogbole. “Growing without soil means you can grow [crops] any time of the year,” he adds.
“With soilless farming we have been able to push for what you call urban farming, where we now have farms in cities such that we are able to cut off the middlemen and marketers,” he says.
“And with soilless farming we have been able to eliminate the pathogens that exist in the soil that naturally affect these crops.”
Only 46% of Nigerian soil is fertile to grow crops, according to him, and as such the country must take a step towards self sustainability in food production, as he believes the “war of the future will be fought through agriculture.”
It’s therefore imperative, he says, that technology plays a more prominent role in agriculture for a variety of reasons.
“We’re bringing in technology into agriculture so that the youth can actually see this as a viable option,” Ogbole says.
“We also want to ensure that food production is no longer seasonal, and we’re also bringing in smart sensor technologies into agriculture so that you’re able to get feedback from your plants.”
As a child Ogbole wanted to be a doctor, but now armed with a degree in biochemistry, a master’s degree, and a PhD, he wants to lead Nigeria on the path to increased food production.
“The future of the economy is dependent on the few people who have bright ideas, that can think outside the box for us to latch on,” he says. “Money does not solve problems; ideas, solve problems.”
Ogbole is now involved in programs to encourage youths to engage in agriculture, based on the belief that “people will always eat.”
“Food will not go out of style, so this is one sector that will always remain relevant because people must eat,” he says.