World Soil Day: Addressing erosion to ensure food security

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World Soil Day is commemorated on the 5th of December to raise awareness about the importance of soil quality for food security, healthy ecosystems and human well-being. It was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Soil is important because it eradicates hunger and is needed to produce healthy food. Soil also acts as a filtration system for surface water and in the maintenance of atmospheric gases.

This year’s World Soil Day theme is “Stop Soil Erosion, Save our Future”.Soil is the main resource base and the most productive natural capital for many people in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially for the rural population. According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), about two million people still suffer from lack of nutritional deficiencies. Globally, it is believed that about 80 per cent of the current degradation of agricultural land is caused by soil erosion. Soil erosion is the displacement of the upper layer of soil, which is important for nutrients, micro-organisms that are necessary for plant growth and its shine

The major causes of soil erosion across Nigeria are majorly human interference, rainfall, poor geology, undulating topography and soil nature. The risk of soil erosion represents a major ecological challenge facing most states in Nigeria especially Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi, Abia and other states in the humid tropical region, this is as a result of soils in those areas having high soil erodibility which are said to be structurally unstable.

Soil erosion continues to be a concept that is ever-present as one of the major problems affecting agriculture in Nigeria, where resource-poor farmers follow extractive farming practices. According to Barry-Chukwu and Princess Kelechi in an article titled, “Are Our Actions Eroding the Earth?”  there is a high rate of erosion in Nigeria because soil formation and degradation naturally take place in a balanced process whereby new soil forms at about the same rate at which it erodes.

The President, Soil Science Society of Nigeria, Prof. Bashir Raji while recommended control measures such as the cultivation of vegetative cover, proper soil and water conservation practices, called for appropriate crop management techniques and intensive community-based campaigns. “Every day we lose arable land, we lose food production. We go into food insecurity because we cannot produce food in large mass when we don’t have the land,”  said Raji



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