Photograph — African farming

In commemoration of  World Soil Day, the Nigerian Institute of Soil Science has emphasised the need to urgently introduce national soil policies to control erosion and improve the nation’s food security.

At the ceremony, Prof. Victor Chude, Registrar of the Institute, condemned the archaic state of  Nigeria’s soil policies which fine loggers with N20 for indiscriminate tree felling and is lax on illegal sand miners. He stated that the policies are incompetent to protect the nation’s soil and called on the government to enact drastic policies that would curb erosion and safeguard the future of posterity.

“Government needs to enact a National Soil Policy that would have teeth to bite to stop the destruction of our soil; especially people who are involved in quarrying, excavation of sands for building, and felling of trees contribute in exposing the environment to erosion.” He stated at the commemoration of this year’s event themed “Stop Soil Erosion, Save Our Future.” 

He further added, that “they must be stopped through tougher measures to stop them from destroying the environment.”

Another key issue Prof Chude raised was the need for the country to carry out a more recent and detailed soil mapping in order to curb food insecurity. He stated that the current mapping the country operates on was done in the 1990s. Chude asserted that if there is adequate information about the soil, farmers would be able to know the fertilizer quantity applicable in a given area, and the crops would produce the genetic yield potential determined by the plant breeders.

A Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FOA) report shows that the lack of soil knowledge by Nigerian farmers has led to a lot of soil damage and abuses. However, the challenges to soil management are not only management but climatic and environmental as well. FOA’s country representative in Nigeria, Suffyan Koroma, also beckoned for the adoption of reliable and proven soil conservation technologies to reduce erosion rates on farmlands. He advised the government to carry a thorough evaluation of the various strategies for soil fertility improvement and soil conservation techniques in the country. 

“Several studies have demonstrated that the soil removed by either water or wind erosion is 1.3 to 5 times richer in organic matter than the soil left behind,” Koroma said. He further stated that “this is not good for our mission to achieving food security in Nigeria.” He reassured the government of FAO’s commitment to providing technical assistance toward managing soil erosion and environmental degradation in the country.

A soil map is a geographical representation showing the diversity of soil types and/or soil properties in the area of land. It supports sustainable land management and is typically the end result of a soil survey inventory. Soil maps are most commonly used for land evaluation, spatial planning, agricultural extension, environmental protection and similar projects. Soil mapping provides important information about where different management practices are most appropriate. 

The Nigerian government needs to rise to the occasion by creating efficient soil policies to curb deforestation and illegal sand mining. An up-to-date soil mapping across the country will not only help combat poor agricultural outputs, but it would also determine what farming practices and measures are best for each geographical location.

By Ishioma Eni.

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