Stakeholders develop agricultural soil management policy

Stakeholders develop agricultural soil management policy

y Felicia Imohimi
Stakeholders in agriculture have pledged commitment to develop national agricultural soil management policy to enhance soil quality and ensure food security.
The stakeholders made the pledge at a One-Day Consultative Meeting on the Draft National Agricultural Soil Management Policy (NASMP) in Abuja.
The meeting was jointly convened by Dominic Graham, Chief of Party, USAID Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity and the Nigerian Institute of Soil Science (NISS).
The stakeholders include the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), NISS, Feed-the-Future Nigeria Agribusiness Investment Activity and  USAID.
Prof Ayo Ogunkule, President and Chairman of NISS Governing Council, said that the policy framework would ensure optimal utilisation of limited soil resources for achieving sustainable agriculture, encouraging investment in agribusiness and fostering environmental sustainability.
Ogunkule said that NASMP was prepared to provide an integrated framework for soil management practices by identifying soil threats and assessing soil functions for sustainable agriculture and supporting agribusiness growth in the country.
Ogunkule, who said that the nation’s soil resources have been badly degraded, emphasised that such degradation “must stop to avoid disaster”.
The chairman, who identified some of the problems as water pollution, erosion, desertification, deforestation, oil spillage and flooding, and climate change, described the challenge as posing a great threat to soil security.
According to him, with NISS in place, the crucial factor remaining is a well-structured policy to handle the various problems of degradation to sustain high soil quality and food security.
“Soil resources constitute the life of any nation because agricultural productivity, particularly food security, depends on it. Soil degradation is, therefore, tantamount to human life degradation.
“Unfortunately, many people, including some government officials, politicians and administrators, seem not to realise it.
“Nigerian soil resources have been badly degraded and this still continues. This must stop (reduced to avoid disaster),”.
Dr Ernest Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary, FMARD, commended NISS for championing the laudable policy, adding that it would help in driving the activities of the agricultural land resources and climate change management services sub-sector of the ministry.
Umakhihe, represented by Mr Oshadiya Olanipekun, Director, Department of Agricultural Land Climate Change Management Service, said the meeting is aimed at developing a sound and coherent soil management policy.
According to him, “the policy will set out a framework and concrete measures to protect our soil and water quality and ensure sustainable agricultural production and competitiveness.”
Umakhihe said that the ministry had engaged the services of supervising consultant of National Soil Survey and Soil Fertility Mapping project to ensure holistic review of the document.
He says “this project is currently being executed in four states of the federation – Edo, Oyo, Gombe and Jigawa.
“Part of the terms of engagement includes assisting the ministry in the development of a comprehensive National Agricultural Soil Management Policy (NASMP).”
He, however, advised NISS to liaise with the consultant through the department of agricultural land and climate change management services to ensure that the policy is properly articulated and widely accepted by all stakeholders concerned.
Similarly, Prof Bashiru Raji, President, Soil Science Society of Nigeria (SSSN), identified the policy as the first policy in Nigeria on how agricultural soil could be managed.
Raji, who said that majority of Nigerian populace are farmers, added that soil management policy would prevent soil degradation and sustain the livelihood of the masses.
“Majority of our people are farmers and their lives are tied down to the sustainability of soil resources which they farm everyday.
“So, if the soil is degraded, their lifestyle is also degraded. This policy will sustain their livelihood.
“Without a renewed focus and integrated action plan for sustainable management of soil resources, Nigeria will continue to struggle with attainment of food and nutrition security as well as adapting and mitigating climate change,” he said.

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