The Federal Government has inaugurated the National Soil Testing and Geographic Information System (GIS) laboratories, towards a sustainable production of food, using modern technology.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubabakar, lauded the development while inaugurating the laboratories, on Monday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the National Soil Testing and GIS laboratories are under the Department of Agricultural Land and Climate Change Management Services in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The new soil testing laboratories in Abuja are an addition to the older three in Kaduna, Ibadan and Umudike, which have also been renovated and upgraded with modern soil testing equipment.
Abubabakar said: “The inauguration of these GIS and Soil Testing Laboratories is highly significant in our task of ensuring food security for the nation.
“These laboratories are necessary for the promotion of technology-driven agriculture which is the focus of the Ministry as contained in the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy (NATIP).
“Over the years, gaps have been identified in the way we manage our soils, which is affecting fertilizer usage and land use planning in the country.
“My Ministry is determined to bridge the gaps, which was why the fourth National Soil Laboratory was established in Abuja.
“I am aware that the department (Agricultural Land & Climate Change Management Services), has been in the forefront of disseminating information and carrying out projects on effective and efficient management of our soil resources.
“The laboratories we are inaugurating today will further strengthen the capacity of the department in this respect,” he said.
Over the years, gaps have been identified in the way we manage our soils, which is affecting fertilizer usage and land use planning in the country.
Abubakar said the Ministry now has four National Soil laboratories in Abuja, Kaduna, Ibadan and Umudike, each equipped with Mid-Infrared Spectrophotometer (MIR) for dry chemistry analytical procedures.
“The equipment has the capacity for analysing large quantities of soil samples rapidly, the four laboratories will go a long way in expanding our soil testing capacity,” he said.
Speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, said the Ministry was now in a position to provide technology-driven services for effective land resources management nationwide.
“The Establishment of a new National Soil Testing Facility in Abuja, in addition to the existing three is aimed at ensuring that farmers and other stakeholders in neighbouring states in the North-Central region of the country will not have to travel far for soil testing services,” he said.
Also, the Director, Department of Agricultural Land & Climate Change Management Services, Shehu Bello, said the establishment of the equipment would ensure farmers do not continue with blind application of fertilizers on their farms.
He assured the Minister that the equipment would be used for the training of staff and for its intended purpose.