The Nigeria Institute of Soil Science has called on governments and individuals to reclaim and promote sustainable practices on saline soils to attain food security in the country.
Prof. Victor Chude, Registrar of the institute made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja ahead of the commemoration of the 2021 World Soil Day (WSD) marked on Dec. 5 annually.
The theme for the 2021 World Soil Day is “Halt Soil Salinisation, Boost Soil Productivity”.
Saline soil is a term used to describe excessive levels of soluble salts in the soil water.
The level is high enough to negatively affect plant growth, resulting in reduced crop yields and even plant death under severe conditions.
“If we continue to walk earnestly in the light of reclaiming and promoting sustainable practices on saline soils, most especially on semi- arid and arid soils, attaining food security cannot be too far from us.
“Salinity becomes a problem when enough salts accumulate in the root zone to negatively affect plant growth.
“Excess salts in the root zone hinder plant roots from withdrawing water from surrounding soil.
“This lowers the amount of water available to the plant, regardless of the amount of water actually in the root zone.
“Recent statistics shows that, the global annual cost of salt-induced land degradation in irrigated areas is estimated to be USD 27.3 billion related to lost crop production,” Chude explained.
The Registrar advocated the use of sustainable farming systems adapted to saline and sodic environments.
He further called for investment in gathering better knowledge on salt affected soils at national, regional and global levels.
Chude called for awareness on the importance and impacts of preventing unsustainable practices that led to salinization of soils.
Speaking on the theme, he explained that it sought to raise awareness on the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being.
Chude said this is by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, fighting soil salinisation and increasing soil awareness.
According to him, the theme also encourages governments, organisations, communities and individuals around the world to commit proactively in improving soil health.
“The WSD is a special day that also seeks to drive an awareness on the enormous role soil plays in attaining food security.
“It is an excellent opportunity to engage the public, target governments, education and academic sectors, farmers, the private sector and the civil society in general,” Chude said.
The Registrar assured the public of the institute’s continuous allegiance to soil scientists that had been consistent in pushing the cause of a food secured Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Chude has called for participation of the general public at the expert dialogue scheduled for Dec. 4 to commemorate World Soil Day (NAN)