Experts have attributed low average productivity per hectare of Nigerian farmers to poor soil conditions.
This, according to the specialists was due to the acidic nature of the soil and has prevented Nigeria from achieving its desired results from agriculture.
In a bid to change this narrative, OCP Africa has signed a pact with the Nigerian Institute of Soil Science (NISS) to improve soil fertility.
During the signing exercise, the Country Manager of OCP Africa, Caleb Usoh, disclosed that OCP will provide the needed financial support, while NISS will provide the needed technical support for the project, as contained in the MoU.
Represented by the Production and Technical Manager of OCP Africa, Oluwatoba Asana, Usoh noted that due to poor productivity, there was food insecurity and poverty within the farming population.
According to him, “problematic soils come in one or two of acidic or alkaline or saline Soils. They are soils in which plant root system does not grow normally due to toxic hydrogen ions, the permeability of plant membranes is adversely affected due to low soil pH; enzyme actions may be altered since they are sensitive to pH fluctuations.
“They are soils in which Aluminum (AI), Manganese (Mn) and Iron (Fe) are available in toxic quantities. In problematic soils, phosphorous gets immobilised, its availability is reduced and most of the activities of beneficial organisms like Azotobacter and nodule forming bacteria of legumes are adversely affected as acidity increases”.
The management of problematic soils, Usoh stated should be targeted towards enhanced crop productivity either by adding soil amendments (to correct soil anomalies) or by manipulating agronomic practices depending on the climatic and edaphic conditions.
“This calls for a multidisciplinary approach (agronomy, breeding, nutrition and pedology) as it is required to breed specialized root system types which match the most urgent constraints of the different locations (most of all P deficiency, N deficiency, and aluminum toxicity)” he added
Speaking on the need to maintain good soil health for improved and sustained agricultural production, the Country Manager defined soil health as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans.
“Therefore, managing soils so they are sustainable for future generations is our collective responsibility and there is no better time to rise to the challenge than now” Usoh added.
On his part, the Registrar of NISS, Professor Victor Chude, said that the project was aimed to address problematic soils in the country and make them productive.
“We are targeting acidic soils, saline soils, alkaline soil, and other problematic soils like the ones with very thick laterite, where crops find it difficult to penetrate,” he added.