The Federal Government has inaugurated the National Soil Testing and Geographic Information System (GIS) laboratories in Abuja, towards a sustainable production of food, using modern technology.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubabakar, while inaugurating the laboratories, on Monday in Abuja, lauded the development.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report 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 laboratory in Abuja is an addition to the older three other National soil testing laboratories in Kaduna, Ibadan and Umudike, which have also been renovated and upgraded with modern soil testing equipment.
Abubabakar said that the inauguration was another bold step towards sustainable production of food, using modern technology by paying attention to the health of Nigeria soils.
“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 the department (Department of 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.
He said the ministry now had 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, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, 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, Mr Shehu Bello, the Director, Department of Agricultural Land & Climate Change Management Services, 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.