Liberia has joined other countries around the globe to officially celebrate, for the first time, World Soil Day (WSD) under the theme: “Soils, Where Food Begins.”
World Soil Day, organized by the Global Soil Partnership, GSP and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, UNFAO, is celebrated on the 5th of December every year.
The observance in Liberia focuses on awareness creation on the importance of soil management, the production of soil information for better agricultural intervention and the importance of keeping the soil healthy for the sustainable management of soil resources.
Participants came from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Central Agriculture Research Institute(CARI), the University of Liberia, Stella Maris Polytechnic University, the William V. Tubman University, Cuttington University, and other higher institutions of learning, high schools and the media.
Speaking on behalf of FAO Representative in Liberia, Mariatou Njie, Mr. Quarbo disclosed that FAO and partners are endeavoring to jointly mobilize resources to scale up soil data collection activities already undertaken in Nimba, with support from the ongoing Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) to the other counties of Liberia as a means of informing efforts aimed at strengthening mitigation and adaptation efforts on climate change.
“Once a national level soil information system is available in the coming years, dependent on resource mobilization, FAO, the Government of Liberia and public tertiary institutions of learning will build on efforts of curriculum reforms already initiated for Extension education.”
Delivering the keynote address, Prof. Gregory Taplah, Director of the Crop Resource Division at the Agriculture Ministry called on Liberians to substantially invest in the soil. “Remember now, that President William R. Tolbert of Liberia once said, the soil is a bank, invest in it,” he added.
Mr. Taplah noted that it was important that a nation knows its soil information for better agriculture intervention, adding that FAO and other development partners are working with government, especially, the Agriculture Ministry to provide soil information for investment purposes.
He lauded FAO’s Technical Cooperation Program (TCP), aimed at strengthening soil analysis and information systems to enhance sustainable soil management and support evidence based decision making in Liberia.
With implementation and leadership support from the Ministry and the University of Liberia, Mr. Taplah said, the FAO funded project is making immense contribution towards achieving the sustainable development goals by helping with data for land use and crop production.
The Project has provided equipment for the Ministry of Agriculture and the University of Liberia laboratories and is building capacity on the first digital soil survey, with soil mapping undertaken initially in Nimba county.
The Liberia Soil Information System is a user friendly, digitized database being developed under the FAO TCP where soil information and data will be uploaded for public consumption.
“These contributions, will therefore make the Land and Water Resource Division of the Ministry of Agriculture to achieve its mandate in undertaking soil survey and soil mapping, and other soil related activities for the Country.”
Mr. Taplah praised FAO and other development partners for their immense support to the Agriculture Ministry and to the University of Liberia for hosting the soil facility at its Fendell campus.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.