In line with its efforts to expand the agricultural sector, the federal government has reiterated its commitment to revamping agriculture as one of the building blocks of the country’s national development. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe, who made this known during the inauguration of the Governing Council of Nigeria Institute of Soil Science in Abuja recently, reiterated the need to leverage on the research outputs of Nigeria’s academic and research institutions to enhance the country’s domestic production capacity, especially in the agricultural sector.
Ogbe noted that the National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs), and Federal Colleges of Agriculture (FCAs) nationwide, must always take account of soil as a fundamental element in their research/training activities.
He stated that the establishment of the Institute is also an important step in meeting the nation’s drive for increased food production as well as effective transformation and the promotion of use of soil, land and other resources.
According to him, “There is no doubt that Nigeria as a nation is facing the challenge of evolving from a mono product economy to a diversified economy, where non-oil sectors will play more crucial role in driving the economic growth of the nation.
“The agricultural sector is one such area where Nigeria, with its abundant human and natural resources, has a high comparative advantage.
In line with the vision of the current federal government agricultural promotion policy, it is expected that the effective functioning of the Institute will provide a stronger Institutional framework for promoting agricultural development as a source of revenue for the country.
The minister who explained that scientists have recognised the soil constraints of erosion, poor maintenance of soil fertility, lack of data on soil resources inventory and soil maps, as contributory factors to low agricultural production, said the only noticeable action taken on soil in all these programmes was the supply of fertilizers at subsidised prices. He however, reiterated an urgent need for a well-planned, scientific soil management strategy to control degradation and ensure continuous use of the soils for increased and sustained crop production.