By Felicia Imohimi
The Federal Government has called on the Nigeria Institute of Soil Science (NISS) and relevant stakeholders to promote soil salinisation mitigation measures to protect the environment.
Dr Mohammed Abubakar, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, made the appeal at the Road Walk/Experts Dialogue on Saturday in Abuja.
The event was organised by the NISS in commemoration of the World Soil Day (WSD).
Abubakar urged them to prevent the soil salinisation through information dissemination on the prevention of destructive practices that leads to soil salinisation.
He identified other measures to mitigate soil salinisation as sustainable farming systems adapted to saline and sodic environment, and development of early warning systems on the precursors of salinity in the soil.
He further urged them to invest in knowledge gathering and sharing on salt-affected soils, information dissemination on the prevention of destructive practices that lead to soil salinisation, and improve technologies and innovations for sustainable management of salt affected soils.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the WSD is commemorated annually on Dec. 5, and the theme for 2021 is “Halt Soil Salinisation, Boost Soil Productivity”.
The minister said: “Our agriculture suffers from many limitations and most of these limitations are environmental in nature while others are anthropologic.
“Major soil constraints which includes soil erosion, salinity, acidity, low soil fertility, desertification, leaching and fixation of nutrients are responsible for the declining productivity and degradation of our soils.
“Our scientists need to work closely with other stakeholders to carry out focused research that would address the soil-related problems affecting our agriculture.”
He noted that in line with 2021 theme there was need to halt soil salinisation in order to boost the production of the soil especially in dry regions of the country.
Abubakar defined soil salinity as the presence of excess soluble salts in the soils identified these salts as sodium, magnesium and calcium.
According to him, the accumulation of these salts in high concentration leads to nutrient imbalance, loss of soil fertility and eventual desertification of arable lands when the situation persists.
He emphasised that “this requires urgent attention in order to safeguard the productivity of our soils.
“We need to embark on sensitisation of farmers and other stakeholders, and disseminate information on the adverse impacts of saline soils on agriculture and environment.
“Available statistics indicates that by 2050, around 50 per cent of global soils will be affected due to salinity and 19 million hectares of sub-Sahara African soils are already affected by soil salinity.
“According to FAO Global Soil Partnership, soil salinisation takes 1.5 million hectares of farmland out of production per year with an annual loss of agricultural productivity estimated at $31,000,000.
“In view of these alarming statistics, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of nature and dynamics of salt-affected soils in Nigeria with particular reference to processes leading to their information and practical approaches for their reclamation and management”.
Prof. Godfrey Nwaka, the Vice President of NISS and Vice Chairman Governing Council of the organisation, said the day seeks to raise awareness on the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystem and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management especially in checking soil salinisation.
Accordingly to him, governments, organisations, institutions, communities and individuals all over the world especially in Nigeria are encouraged to be committed to proactive improvement of soil health through the control of soil salinisation.
Nwaka explained that the experts dialogue was an avenue for scientists, researchers, academicians, policy makers and industrial experts to present the way forward in order to achieve a higher control on the process of soil salinisation, achieve sustainable food production and soil health.
He urged all and sundry to contribute positively towards the control of soil salinisation and amelioration of salt affected soils in Nigeria.
Nwaka explained that NISS was charged with the responsibility of leading the offensive and defensive war against soil salinisation.
According to him, this is in order to achieve protective management and conservation of soils of the country and ecosystem.
“This can be achieved through ensuring that soil science practitioners and other users of the soils should uphold the principles and requirements of soil protection and management in relation to soil salinisation.
“Through advancement of soil and environmental education, science, technology and the art of soil protection and crop production in collaboration with zonal coordinating Research Institutes, River Basin Development Authorities, Agricultural Development Agencies, among others.
“Through promotion of soil health and quality management and conservation.
“Through promotion of methods in the fight against soil salinity and secondary salinisation in our country and regulate all issues pertaining to management of soil salinisation.
“Through education of the public on soil science activities and cooperate or affiliate with other relevant associations, NGOs and soil science bodies locally and Internationally,” he said. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)