The Federal Government through the Nigeria Institute of Soil Science (NISS) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with OCP Africa Fertilizer Limited, to address soil problem for increased productivity.
This is against the backdrop of a research that 75 per cent of Nigeria’s soil is acidic, while 20 per cent has become strongly acidic, due to heavy rainfall pastern in the south that leeches the soil, washing away its major nutrients.
At the MoU signing and inception Workshop on Management of Problematic soils in Nigeria, in Abuja, the representative of the Country Manager of OCP Africa, Mr. Tobiloba Ashanu, linked the average low yield per hectare to the country’s soil condition, saying it is one of the reasons for food insecurity and poverty within the farming population.
“Problematic soils come in one or two of acidic or alkaline or saline soils. They are soils in which plant root system does not grow normally due to toxic hydrogen ions; permeability of plant membranes is adversely affected due to low soil pH; enzyme actions may be altered since they are sensitive to pH fluctuations.”
Beyond supply of fertilizers and other farm inputs, he underscored the need to bridge the education gap by providing extension workers with the necessary capacity to guide farmers in the knowledge and management of problematic soils through sustainable agronomic practices.
The Registrar of Nigeria Institute of Soil Science, Prof Victor Chude noted that the overall aim of the project was to improve soil quality and sustainability and increase agricultural productivity through effective sustainable management of problematic soils.
According to him, they are targeting acidic soils, saline soils, alkaline soils among other problematic soils like soils with thick laterite, noting that they are specifically targeting acidic soils that cover about 75 per cent of the country, and also alkaline soils which because of the heavy catayons don’t support growth of crops.
He said the inception meeting was to create awareness about the project on what needs to be done to address the problem, adding that they are working with the OCP Africa who would make the materials needed to address the soils available at a very low price.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development, Mr. Ernest Umakhihe in his remark said there is undisputable evidence that Nigeria has a large area of land with soils that are no longer productive or have very low productivity.
“We have the dry land soils in the extreme northern part of the country and the wet land and acid lands in the South. This initiative will certainly address these problems and restore the productive capacity of the soils in this category,” he added.