In a bid to enhance food sufficiency, the Federal Government has announced the commencement of a nationwide soil survey and fertility mapping as well as guaranteeing sustainable utilisation of land resources.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, who spoke yesterday in Abuja, recalled that the last time Nigeria conducted soil inventorization was in the 1980s at a reconnaissance level using a scale of 1.650,000 which has been obsolete and inexpedient for rapid agricultural transformation.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ernest Umakhihe, he 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.
“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).”
According to him, 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.
“It 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.
“The ministry will focus on the promotion of site -specific fertilizer application techniques and blending of crop -specific inorganic fertilizer materials which requires a detailed soil and soil fertility maps to actualize the goal.
The Minister, highlighted the fragmented information and knowledge of the conditions and trends of Nigeria soils at present and explained the need for a wholistic approach that will guarantee a more accurate, up-to-date and spatially-reference soil information to support the nation’s agricultural productivity enhancement programmes.
He appealed to development partners and donor agencies like FAO, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, IFDC, OCP Africa and USAID, to provide technical assistance and support to facilitate the process of conducting the exercise.
Meanwhile, the Director, Agricultural Land Climate Change, Shehu Bello, urged participants to come up with clear, well-defined strategies for detailed soil survey and soil fertility mapping for the country.
Bello stressed the need for participants to also identify necessary tools for assessing the potential of Nigeria land resources for effective planning.
He noted that soil survey and soil fertility maps were being used in many countries to boost crop production, hoping that the exercise will help Nigeria achieve access at all times to nutritous and sufficient food.
In his presentation, President of Nigeria Institute of Soil Science (NISS), Prof. Ayo Ogunkunkle, said that soil remains non-renewable natural resources on human time scale.
Ogunkunle explained that chemical soil infertility constitutes great constraints to high crop productivity due to low inherent soil nutrients, loss of top soil and associated soil nutrients causing low per capital food Production and expressed optimism that adding that the workshop will help in addressing soil survey and soil Fertility in the country.
Additionally, Executive Director, Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T) Obafemi Awolowo University in Ibadan, Prof. Veronica Obatolu, informed that the Institute would collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure sustainable use of land resources.