The Federal Government has restated its commitment to climate change mitigation to enhance soil fertility to promote food security in the country. Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, disclosed this in Nsukka on September 23, 2023, during a keynote address at the 47th conference of the Soil Science Society of Nigeria (SSSN). The theme of the conference was “Tropical Soil and Water Resources Management: Climate Change Mitigation for Functional Ecosystem Services and Food Security.”
Umakhihe said that all the technical departments in the ministry take soil issues seriously in the pursuit of their vision to prevent soil pollution and degradation. According to him, enhancing soil fertility and food security is one of the mandates of the ministry and members of staff have been taking the issues seriously to achieve the ministry’s mandate. He said that the ministry has made a lot of contributions towards climate change mitigation to help maintain the soil productivity and achieve food security in the country.
Appeal made for stakeholder collaboration to maintain soil health.
He added that the government has responded in many ways on issues of climate change mitigation through a series of interventions and collaborations with relevant ministries and agencies. In the past few years, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, through the Department of Agriculture, Land and Climate Change Management Service (ALCCMS), has invested so much on climate change mitigation strategies. In the areas of water harvesting, he said that small-scale irrigation techniques, land and water conservation, and management strategies in many parts of the countries have recorded good results.
Furthermore, the permanent secretary, who was represented by a director in the ministry, Mr. Oshadiya Olanipekun, appealed for collaboration among all the stakeholders in the maintenance of good health of the soil to ensure improved agricultural productivity. He explained that climate change had resulted in the loss of soil organic matter, reduction in moisture content and loss of soil structure. Disruption in rainfall intensity also affects water resources and food production are already a threat to ecosystem services and food security.
UNN VC raises faith in the country’s agriculture.
In his remarks, Prof. Charles Igwe, the vice chancellor (VC) of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), who declared the conference open, appreciated the number of soil scientists and other stakeholders in agriculture and Agro-allied industries at the conference. In his words, it is commendable as it raised the hope that agriculture will soon regain its pride of place in the country. He said that the theme of the conference captured what the country requires to tackle the problem of agricultural improvement as well as achieving food security. “Our life and agriculture depend solely on soil, we cannot afford to toy with our soils as it amounts to playing with the life of entire citizens,” he said.
“I have no doubt that the galaxy of soil scientists and agriculturists participating in this conference, will proffer solutions on how to achieve food security in the country through adequate soil management,” he continued. The VC, who is also a soil scientist and a member of SSSN, said that soil information dissemination should be field-based to help reach all farmers both in urban and rural areas. Also speaking at the event, Prof. Mohammed Jibrin, National President of SSSN, said that the annual conference of the organization represents a convergence of minds, hopes, dreams and aspiration for better and more sustainable management of soil resources.
Conference theme aligns with the UN agenda to restore the planet.
Jibrin said that soil scientists in Nigeria look forward to this annual conference because it is a learning and networking opportunity. He said that the year’s theme aligns perfectly with the current UN decade of ecosystem restoration (2021 to 2030), which is the need to restore the planet’s fragile ecosystem while at the same time addressing food security challenges. Also speaking, the Chairman of the LOC, Prof. Charles Asadu, commended participants for attending the conference from different parts of the country. He said that he had no doubt that the outcome of the conference would provide policy guidelines for government and stakeholders in addressing soil problems as well as achieving food security.
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