The celebrations of the International Year of Soils (IYS) 2015, has been launched in Accra, with a call on Ghana to lead the way for showing Africa the need to keep soil safe in ensuring food security and human survival on earth.
“The people of Africa and indeed the world will be looking up to Ghana to come out with practical ideas and solutions to its soil problems today.
“I believe this is the opportune time for Ghana to demonstrate that it has what it takes even in the midst of limited resources be it human or technological to tackle what affects it,” Dr Mohamed Ag Bendech, Senior Nutrition Officer, FAO Regional office, has said.
The World Soil Day (WSD) scheduled to be marked on December 5, with other planned activities, was instituted two years ago by the United Nations General Assembly, while 2015 was declared as the International Year of Soils.
The International Year of Soils serves as a platform for raising awareness of the importance of soils for food security and essential eco-system functions.
The climax of the World Soil Day would be held on December 5, which would simultaneously be marked across the globe.
Dr Ag Bendech, who launched the day in Accra on Thursday, said soil, which continues to provide man’s vegetation and other agricultural needs including raw materials as feed, fibre, and fuel is currently under threat, the world over.
He said whilst 95 per cent of the world’s food comes from soils; the level of soil degradation is estimated at 33 per cent globally, which is very “alarming”.
Dr Ag Bendech explained that research has proven that about a third of the world’s soils have been degraded and the trend appears worrying with the increasing demand for various land uses.
“As the world’s population keeps increasing, it demands concerted efforts on the part of all stakeholders to ensure that there will be enough food for all.
“The quality and quantity are also issues to be considered,” he said.
He said soil is considered a natural living thing that cannot be artificially created or manufactured simply through any chemical or physical combination of substances.
He said it should trigger people to sit up and make sure the vital resource is protected and well managed to ensure a sustainable environment.
He explained that food crops grown on fertile soils contain more micronutrients than nutrient-stressed crops grown on infertile soils.
Soil micronutrient status, cropping systems, variety selection and soil fertilization practices are important factors that impact the nutrient output of food systems.
Soil improvements increase productivity and allow for greater diversity of crops.
“It is expedient therefore to gather as much information as possible and find out practical and simple ways of keeping our soils safe,” Dr Ag Bendech added.
He said there is need for coordination and partnership to create a unified and recognised voice for soils and to avoid fragmentation of efforts and wastage of resources and that was why the Global Soil Partnership had been established
Maintaining healthy soils required for feeding the growing population of the world and meeting their needs could only be ensured through a strong partnership and that was why the Global Soil Partnership has been established to identify the many shortfalls in the area of soil science.
Dr Francis Tetteh, President of the Soil Science Society of Ghana said IYS 2015 was instituted to raise full awareness among civil society and decision makers about the profound importance of soil for human life.
It was to educate the public about the crucial role soil plays in food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation and sustainable development.
It also seeks to support effective policies and actions for the sustainable management and protection of soil resources.
He said activities planned for the celebration include a quiz to be organised for 40 Second Cycle Institution on soils.
He explained the quiz platform will be used to create awareness on the importance of soils amongst students and the public as well as whip up interest among students to take up soil science as a profession.
He said a field tour starting from Burkina Faso to Paga border, Techiman, Kumasi, Lake Bosomtwi, some Galamsey sites at Amansie West, through to Kakum National Park and the Cape Coast Castle would be organised to share knowledge and experience in identifying and classifying various soils in Ghana.
A symposium would be held on December 5, to create awareness, and discuss topical issues relating to environment and soils.