By Felicia Imohimi
Abuja, Aug. 7, 2020 The Nigeria Institute of Soil Science (NISS) has solicited the collaboration of the Ministry of Science and Technology to enhance food production and sustainable environment.
Prof. Victor Chude, the Registrar of NISS made the call when some members of staff of the institute paid a courtesy visit to Dr Mohammed Umar, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Science and Technology on Friday in Abuja.
Chude, represented by Mr Oderinde Lanre, the Head, Regulatory Affairs, NISS, said the visit was to seek collaboration of the ministry in order to achieve the institute’s `Five Year Action Plan’ for the management and protection of soil resources in the country.
According to him, the plan which its implementation is between 2020 and 2025, the general idea is to get enhancement or increase in food production, sustainability of the environment among others.
“Our main target is to see possible areas on how we can collaborate with relevant agencies to achieve the Five Year Action Plan.
“We are trying to reach out to as many bodies that are relevant including the ministry to let them know what we are doing, how we can better collaborate to ensure that Nigeria soil, especially food production in the country is enhance.”
Chude noted that the action plan had been categorised into five thematic areas – pillars one to five.
He identified the pillars to include promotion of sustainable management of soil resources for soil protection, conservation and sustainable productivity, encourage investment, technical cooperation, policy, education, awareness and extension in soil.
“The third pillar is to promote targeted soil research and development focusing on identified gaps, priorities and synergies with related productive, environmental and social development actions by assessing and prioritising soil related research gaps.
“Enhance the quantity and quality of soil data and information, data collection and generation, analysis, validation, reporting, monitoring and integration with other disciplines.
“The fifth pillar is harmonisation of methods, measurements and indicators for the sustainable management and protection of soil resources.
“For the successful management of our soil there must be policy, technical cooperation in different areas, there must be awareness, education from primary school, secondary and university and then increase in extension services for people to be able to aware.
“So the institute is championing the course of ensuring that there is policy, cooperation, there is awareness and also extension on soil matter,” Chude said.
The registrar, who decried that soil in the country was not given the needed attention, however, described soil as a resource that “cannot be used at will, so it has to be well managed”.
“The institute is established by the Federal Government Act 2017 to promote soil quality management, educate the public on soil science activities, and cooperate with relevant associations and soil science body locally and internationally among others.
“With the increasing population in Nigeria and globally coupled with climate change, land degradation and all the rest, we all agreed that there is serious need to manage our soil properly.
“And in order to fulfill our mandate as an institute, we have set out five year action plans in line with what is also obtainable at the international level.
“So in the next five years we want to see how we can back up our research institutes with science and technology that are practicable for farmers and as well useful to everyone.”
Responding, the permanent secretary of the ministry assured the institute of the ministry’s collaboration in the area of soil research, data collection and mapping.
Represented by Mr Ken Onwumbiko, the Director Planning, Research and Policy Analysis of the ministry, said he would liaise with relevant agencies under the ministry in charge of research and data collection to further concretise the engagement.
He identified agencies as National Biotechnology, Development Agency (NABDA), National Institute for Research and Development (NIRD), Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI), the Nigerian Institute of Science Laboratory and Technology (NISLT) among others.
According to him, there is need to collaborate because we don’t need to be working individually at all levels, so we need to collaborate by so doing it will help the nation as a whole.