By Felicia Imohimi
Abuja – The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has challenged soil scientists to identify strategies that would ensure the agricultural sector predominated the nation’s economy.
Dr Muhammed Bello, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, said this at the experts’ dialogue on Thursday in Abuja to commemorate the 2019 World Soil Day (WSD) with the theme “Stop soil erosion, save our future”.
The dialogue was organised by the Nigeria Institute of Soil Science (NISS) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Bello appealed to soil experts to prioritise erosion and diversification as they constituted threat to soil health and drastically limited agricultural productivity.
Bello, who identified erosion as a threat to soil health and agriculture production, however, described the country as a paradox.
He noted that a section of the country was threatened by soil erosion due to excessive rainfall while the other section was threatened by desertification due to low rainfall.
Bello noted that the ministry was responsible for developing the agricultural sector of the Nigerian economy with a view to growing the sector to drive income growth, accelerate food and nutritional security and generate employment.
Bello further noted that it was responsible for transforming the country into a leading global food market and completely diversifying the economy.
“The ministry successfully delivers on this mandate courtesy of the present government policy which accorded the agricultural sector highest priority in the quest of government intention of diversifying the economy.
“The ministry in driving the successes supports the nation’s farming communities with various production incentives such as agricultural inputs, agrochemicals, quality seeds, fertilisers, land clearance services, agricultural mechanisation equipment, rural roads, markets, among others.
Speaking on the theme Prof. Victor Chude, a soil scientist, said NISS was seeking to raise awareness on the importance of sustaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the increasing challenges in soil management in the country.
Chude described the Nigeria soil as being threatened due to degradation and erosion.
He emphasised that the threat had the potential of affecting next generation it there was failure to adopt sustainable management which included appropriate policy.
According to him, what soil scientists can do is to support with soil information and make it available to government.
He said such information would relate with soil fertility or how the soil could be properly managed to support the growth of trees.
Dr Balbir Singh, representative of Indorama Eleme Fertiliser and Chemical Ltd, identified soil as important to food and healthy nutrition.
Singh described locally produced rice, millet among others as better than the foreign rice in terms of nutrition adding that what the nation required was to take proactive measures to sustain its soil.
According to him, consuming those natural foods will make the citizens healthier and limit their visitation to hospitals.