The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar has commissioned the National Soil Testing Laboratory and Geographic Information System (GIS), of the Department of Agricultural Land & Climate Change Management Service (ALCCMS), stating that the Laboratories would boost food security, suitability and capability of lands for the sustainable production of different crops and land use.
Speaking during the Commissioning Ceremony on Monday 14th February 2022, Dr. Mahmood Abubakar noted that, ‘’ Federal Government is committed to an Agriculture led diversification of the nation’s economy. Therefore, for agriculture to play the expected role towards achieving this objective, the soil resources on which agriculture depends must also receive special attention for sustainable agricultural production’’.
The Minister stated that ‘’ GIS and Soil Testing Laboratories is highly significant in our task of ensuring food security for the nation. These laboratories are necessary for the promotion of technology-driven agriculture which is the focus of the Ministry as contained in the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy (NATIP)’’.
Dr. Abubakar pointed out that ‘’ Over the years, gaps have been identified in the way we manage our soils which is affecting fertilizer usage and land use planning in the country. The ministry is determined to bridge the gaps which was why the fourth National Soil Laboratory was established in Abuja’’.
He said that ‘’ the ALCCMS department has been in the forefront of disseminating information and carrying out projects on effective and efficient management of our soil resources. The laboratories will further strengthen the capacity of the department in this respect’’.
He informed that ‘’ the Ministry now has four National Soil laboratories in Abuja, Kaduna, Ibadan and Umudike each equipped with Mid-Infrared Spectrophotometer (MIR) for dry chemistry analytical procedures. The equipment has the capacity for analyzing large quantities of soil samples rapidly. The four laboratories will go a long way in expanding our soil testing capacity’’.
Abubakar added that ‘the GIS laboratory has capacity to receive soil field data real-time for processing, analyses and mapping, the GIS technology with its versatility will facilitate the production of soil fertility maps for different parts of the country. This will provide current information on the suitability and capability of lands for the production of different crops and land use’’.
He further said that the maps will provide information on crop and location specific types of fertilizer for blending by our blenders to enhance agricultural productivity and stop blind application of fertilizers in the country.
The Minister urged the department to embark on nationwide sensitization of farmers on the importance and benefits of soil testing in crop and livestock production, because declining yield per hectare of farm land is attributed to declining soil fertility.
He thanked the Resource Persons from the World Agroforestry Centre (International Centre for Research on Agroforestry (ICRAF)), Kenya for conducting the training due to their years of experience in soil analysis using MIR and continuous collaboration with ICRAF in the area of soil analytical services.
In his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe encouraged the staff of the ALCCMS department to use the platforms provided by these laboratories to learn and acquire modern skills in soil analytical services and Geographical Information System.
He stated that ‘’the GIS facility is equipped with real-time data storage, processing and mapping software. Its high capacity dedicated server will enable the Ministry to store, manage and take custody of all forms and categories of data that are generated by departments and agencies under the Ministry.’’
Director, Agric Land and Climate Change Services Department in the Ministry, Engr. Shehu Bello,min during his opening remarks, said the laboratories in Abuja will also service the needs of the adjoining states in the North Central Region while the other laboratories as presently situated will provide the needed soil analytical services for the South- West, south- East and North West Regions of the country.
Engr. Shehu added that the facilities will ensure that farmers have access to crop and site-specific fertilizer recommendation which are important for sustainable soil productivity.
In his goodwill message, the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), Nairobi, Kenya, Lead Resources person, Mr. Wullow Elvis, lauded the Federal Government for acquiring world class facilities for the laboratories. He commended Nigeria for the huge investment in the facilities and pledged his support to ensure that the laboratories are put into optimal usage for the benefit of the Nigerian farmers.