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‘Support research into soil quality’

BY: Kwadwo Baffoe Donkor
A soil scientist taking the dignitaries through soil structure during the opening day
A soil scientist taking the dignitaries through soil structure during the opening day

The Director of the Soil Research Institute (SRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr Mohammed Moro Buri, has said that the future of agriculture in the country is discouraging, considering the continuing depletion of soil fertility.

He said the country had for a very long time paid very little attention to the soil and concentrated only on crops, forgetting that without good soil seeds would not grow.

According to him, about 80 per cent of the agricultural land in the country was acidic, “a condition that is detrimental to crop production.”

Open day

Speaking at the institute’s first open day as part of activities marking the 60th anniversary celebration of the council, Dr Buri noted that “neglecting the soil and not giving it due recognition in the country’s agricultural transformation agenda will not help the country achieve its potential in agriculture.”

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He said soil and water pollution were increasingly becoming a big threat, while soil fertility levels also continued to decline.

Soil policy
He called for a soil policy that would guide soil research and also protect soil resources in the country.

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He said the institute was most worried about “the absence of a soil management authority that will direct the CSIR-SRI research agenda”.

The institute, he said, would be very appreciative if the authorities concerned would consider establishing such an authority.

Dr Buri called for soil conditions to be improved, since improved seeds alone could not increase yields.

“Improved seeds alone cannot contribute more than 20 per cent of crop yield, whereas improved soil conditions can results in increases in crop yield of not less than 40 per cent,” he said.

Causes

He blamed poor soil fertility on human activities such as illegal mining and rapid urbanisation which were fast reducing agricultural lands.

He said even though poor soil quality could be due to natural factors and causes, a greater part was due to human activity.

He added that the current situation could become worse if effective soil management practices were not adopted.

“While areas under agriculture are increasingly diminishing due to urbanisation and poor land management practices, the quality of our agricultural lands is also fast deteriorating.

Let’s think seriously about this,” he said.

Achievements

The Director of the Soil Research Institute (SRI) said even though the institute got little mention when it came to developments in the agriculture sector in the country, it had over the years made significant contributions towards the socio-economic development of the country.

He said monetary contributions of the CSIR-SRI to national development “will run into billions of Ghana cedis.”

Council chair

The Chairman of the CSIR, Prof. R. Kingsford-Adaboh, said there was a need for the institute to make itself more visible and get closer to the people who use its services.

For the council’s part, he said it was reviewing the conditions of service for staff and would continue to support all the 13 institutes under the council to make them more relevant in the country.