Expert Tasks Farmers On Soil Degradation, Food Scarcity

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Nigerian farmers have been urged to ensure maximum management of soil so as to prevent further soil degradation and ensure availability of food in the country.

The Head of the Land and Water Resources Management Programme at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, Dr. Olufunmilayo Ande gave this advice in her paper presented at the event marking this year’s World Soil Day with the theme ‘International Year of Pulses’ held at the institute’s training hall on Tuesday.

The event which is an international day set aside by Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), organized by the institute in conjunction with Soil Science Society of Nigeria and Nigeria Soil Health Consultium was attended by Soil Scientists, practicing farmers, extension specialists as well as students from universities and colleges of Agriculture from South Western states.

According to the organizers, the event was organized to promote/sensitize the public towards good soil management.

Speaking on the topic “Pulses for Soil and Human Life”, Ande remarked that soil is very crucial in plant life and it should be well managed.

SOIL“Soil is a non-renewable resource that is essential for plant life and 95 percent of the global food supply.

“Hunger and malnutrition resulting from land degradation are major challenges facing most developing countries in the world today and sustainable soil management is very crucial to overcome these challenges,” she said.

“ A sustainable management of the world’s agricultural soils and sustainable production is imperative for reversing the trend of soil degradation to ensure current and future global food security.

She said one of the ways to reduce the effects of erosion which leads to degradation is for farmers to plant Pulses which are architects of soil health and foster soil carbon sequestration and cleaner water filtration.

She described Pulses as “Annual leguminous crops yielding between one and twelve grains or seeds of variable size, shape and color within a pod, used for food and feed”, Ande encourage farmers to embrace the cultivation of Pulses which has higher economic value than other crops.

Examples of Pulses include; Baked beans, Red, Green, Yellow and Brown Lentils, Black-eyed Peas, Garden Peas, Runner Beans, Chickpeas, Broad Beans, Kidney Beans and Butter Beans.

Ande however lamented the effects of environmental factors on the soil which can be easily be solved when planting pulses.

“The world is currently losing soil 10 to 20 times faster than it is replenishing it, a trend pulses can help offset. The report of a case study in India shows how growing pigeon peas reduced soil runoff and erosion by up to 59 percent. Similarly, an experiment conducted at the IAR&T shows that pulses such as iron and clay, sesbiana, lab lab, cajanus cajan were able to ameliorate degraded land faster than other organic fertilizers.

She maitained that these crops “Offer farmers higher profit margins than cereal grains and can thus play an important role in helping reduce rural poverty at the local, regional and international levels.

“They are also sustainable, resilient and soil-friendly, feeding the soil biology and increasing microbial activity. Growing pulses crops in rotation with other crops enables the soil environment to support flourishing of these large, diverse populations of soil organisms”.

Ande added “Pulses are environmentally resilient crops that deliver high-nutrition foods to people and critical to biological ecosystems noting that for Farmers to ensure maximization of soil nutrients and improve productivity of farmers, there is a need for farmers to embrace these crops.

Earlier in his address, the Executive Director of the institute, Professor James Adediran admonished farmers in the country as he urged them to take good care of the soil to ensure maximum production.