FG to commence soil survey, fertility mapping to enhance food security

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is set to commence a Nationwide Survey and Soil Fertility Mapping to boost crop production.

The Ministry said the programme was part of its strategy to ensure sustainable utilisation of the nation’s land resources and a drive towards attaining food self-sufficiency in the country.

Speaking at the opening session of a workshop with the theme: ” Enhancing Food Security in Nigeria through the Production of Detailed Soil Survey and Soil Fertility Maps” held in Abuja, the Minister, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, recalled that the last time Nigeria carried out Soil inventorisation was in the 1980s at a reconnaissance level using a scale of 1.650,000 which has been obsolete and inexpedient for the much desired rapid Agricultural transformation.

Umakhihe said: “We have realised that over time that the country needs detailed soil survey and soil fertility maps that are necessary if we are to understand the best ways of evaluating the potential of our soils for agricultural production.”

He added that maps generated from such survey will be of immense benefits to farming communities, land-use planners and also serve as a road map for Nigeria Soil Information System (NSIS).

The Permanent Secretary said the workshop is expected to focus on current Methodologies in digital soil mapping used in the production of detailed soil survey and Soil Fertility maps.

He said the workshop is also expected to assist farmers so that they can obtain basic information on soil Fertility status that is required to inform the decisions on the type and rate of fertilizer application to be applied in addition to the method and time of application.

He also disclosed that the ministry will focus on the promotion of site-specific fertilizer application techniques and blending of crop-specific inorganic fertilizer materials which require detailed soil and soil fertility maps to actualise the goal.

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Umakhihe highlighted the fragmented information and knowledge of the conditions and trends of Nigeria soils at present and explained the need for a holistic approach that will guarantee more accurate, up-to-date and spatially-reference soil information to support the nation’s Agricultural productivity enhancement programmes.

He informed that the four National Soil Water Laboratories in Ibadan, Umudike, Kaduna and Abuja have been rehabilitated and upgraded to a modern Spectra laboratory Equipment (MIR) to the standard of the International Centre for Research in Agro-Forestry ( ICRAF) to conduct soil tests and analyses from the National Soil Survey.

In his presentation, Prof. Ayo Ogunkunkle, President and Chairman Nigeria Institute of Soil Science (NISS )Governing Council, said that soil is a vital and non-renewable natural resource, on a human time scale.

He explained that chemical soil infertility constitutes great constraints to high crop productivity due to low inherent soil nutrients, loss of topsoil and associated soil nutrients causing low per capita food Production and expressed optimism that adding that the workshop will help in addressing soil survey and soil Fertility in the country.

In her remarks, the Executive Director, Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T) Obafemi Awolowo University in Ibadan, Professor Veronica Obatolu, said the Institute was willing and prepared to collaborate with all stakeholders at ensuring the sustainable use of land resources. She reaffirmed the Institute’s readiness to play its statutory roles in ensuring that the goals of the workshop are realised.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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